Decretum Super Virtutibus - English
Congregation for the Cause of Saints
Manila
BEATIFICATION and CANONIZATION
Servant of God
Ignacia del Espiritu Santo
Foundress

CONGREGATION OF THE RELIGIOUS OF THE VIRGIN MARY
(1663- 1748)
Decree on Virtues

         No one, who has left home, brothers or sisters, mother or father children or property, for  me and for the gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many homes, brothers and sisters, mothers, children and property, and persecution besides, and in the age to come, everlasting life … (Mk.  10, 29-30).

 

         The promises made by the Divine Master were fulfilled in the life of Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. Having meditated on them, she preferred to offer her life to Christ and neighbor when she could have enjoyed the security and comfort of family. Thus she became rich before God and the Church not only because she lived an outstanding life of holiness but also because she founded the first religious Congregation in the Philippines for mestizo and native women.

 

         The servant of God was born in the month of February 1663 in Binondo, Manila. She was the eldest child of Jusepe Iuco, a Chinese, and Maria Jeronima who appears to be a native woman. On March 4 of the same year she was baptized in the Church of the Holy Kings in Parian. She received the name Ignacia in honor of the martyr St. Ignatius of Antioch. The child was raised in Binondo, where she received instruction in the Catholic Faith.

 

         At the age of 21, the Servant of God, recognizing the divine call to embrace the life of conversion, declined the offer of her parents to marry her off. At first she wanted to enter the Dominican “Beaterio” of St. Catherine in Manila, but later under the influence of Fr. Paul Klein, a Bohemian Jesuit, she decided to start a new institution in what was known as the “Beaterio” of the Society. In 1684 she entered the life of prayer and mortification, while assisting the Jesuit priests in Manila. She lodged and boarded in a small house that used to be a chapel of the Jesuits. Within a year several women who accepted her authority joined her. Thus she started a new society under the spiritual direction of the Jesuits. The community was given to prayer, formation of young girls, teaching of Christian doctrine, practice of Ignacian spiritual exercises, and assisting the religious men of the Society of Jesus. The community flourished in the aspects of community life, austerity, zeal for mortification, poverty, and diligence in works of charity. In consideration of the solidarity’s growth, the servant of God wrote the constitutions, which the diocesan authorities had permitted earlier in 1726 and finally approved in 1732. In 1948 the institute obtained the pontifical approval and was named Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.

 

         Intimate union with God, whose supreme will was a law for her, marked the daily life of the Servant of god. Fully trusting in divine providence, she accepted the difficult path even in the absence of instruction on religious life. She nourished her faith not only through prayer and piety that she derived from the Holy Eucharist and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also through works of discipline and mortification. She was a woman who denied herself the joy of marriage because of love of God who alone she wanted to serve. She spent her life loving God and serving him in the hope of the eternal joys, which she longed for. She loved her neighbor, sharing her material goods with the poor and thus worked with the poor and thus worked with apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. In various occasions she proved herself to be a “woman of strength.” This is proven by her prudent and long-suffering spirit in the face of all the problems she encountered from the beginning until the completion of her work for the Institute. Driven by zeal for poverty, she was an example for her companions in the way she lived and showed diligence in work. Lastly, she was an outstanding example of the observance of humility, obedience, and disdain of earthly vanity.

 

         In 1737 she resigned as superior of the “Beaterio” and became a humble sister subject to the new sister superior. She died on September 10, 1748. It is reported in the Congregation trhat she died kneeling down after receiving Holy Communion in the Church of St. Ignatius in Manila where she was buried.

 

         When the fame of the sanctity of the Servant of God became wide- spread, several efforts were made, especially at the turn of the  20th Century, to work for her beatification and canonization. In 1987 the Archbishop of Manila instituted a diocesan investigation, which the Congregation for the Cause of Saints acknowledged through a decree published on December 20, 1991. On January 16, 2001 the Congregation’s experts met to discuss historical questions surrounding the Servant of God. Afterwards, discussions were held on her virtues. On February 23, 2007 the theologians of the Congregation successfully hold their assembly. On June 19 of the same year the Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation met in a regular session. Having heard the report of the Most Rev. Pier Girolamo De Nicolo, Titular Archbishop of Martanaénse, who is the defender of the Cause, they acknowledged the theological and cardinal virtues which Ignacia del Espiritu Santo put into practice in a heroic manner.

 

         Through an accurate report by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI was dutifully informed of the Cause. His Holiness, accepting and ratifying the said report, declared on this day that “the Servant of God, Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, foundress of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, is found to possess to a heroic degree the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity toward God and neighbor, as well as the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude.”

 

         His Holiness ordered that this decree be published and included in the Acts of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.

 

         Given in Rome on the 6th day of July in the year of Our Lord 2007.

 

         (Sgd.) Jose Card. Saraiva Martins
                    Perfect
         (Sgd.) Michele di Ruberto
                    Secretary

 

(Translation into English of the Latin Document from the Sacred Congregation by Rev. Fr. Genaro O. Diwa, Archdiocese of Manila)

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