mfanimated 2

Article Index

Life of the Venerable Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo
Foundress of the Beaterio de Santa Catalina de Sena

Fr. Domingo Collantes, O.P. (1783)
Reference: Lives of Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo, OP  and Mother Sebastiana de Santa Maria, O.P.

In Chapter XXXII of his Book of Proverbs, King Solomon earnestly directed his finest, high-polished praises and eulogies to a mannish matron whose rare fortitude was the object of the wise monarch's admiration. ("Who shall find a valiant woman. .." Proverbs 31 : 10) . He now extolled her thrift and prudent rule and direction of her home and family, or commended her circumspection in the purchase of a lot and in the planting of a vineyard with her utmost efforts and her arduous labor; or, again, he praised her liberality and mercy with the poor and needy, the agreeable blending of red and white in her flowing garments, and finally, the discretion and clemency of her speech. All these admirable assets were detected in wondrous edification in the Venerable Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo, Foundress of our Beaterio de Santa Catalina de Sena de Manila, for all her actions and toils were always the object of high regard. In the simplicity of her ways and in her adverse tribulations anyone could find the showy blending of her white and red. In her pleasant affability and great prudence in her rule over the "beaterio" one might find combined her clemency, discretion, and prudent economy in the management of her family. In her great compassion for the poor and the needy, one could uncover that heroic liberality which appealed so deeply to King Solomon. Finally, in her choice of a religious profession and in the foundation of the "beaterio", one would notice her circumspection in the purchase of the site and her eagerness in the establishment of her vineyard.

The Venerable Mother was a native of the City of Manila, and she spent the early years of her youth in the state of matrimony, but with such seclusion and retirement that she evoked the virtuous Joan of Portugal, who with regal ostentation covered up the grave austerity and severe mortification of her life. In the bloom of her youth she lost her husband and having been bereft of offspring, she devoted herself totally to the practice of spiritual exercises and to the rigors of self-mortification, as well as mental prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments with admirable perseverance to her soul's profit. Her home seemed not the habitation of secular people, but the dwelling place of the most recluse religious, for her retirement and practice of spiritual exercises in vocal and mental prayer, made her home look like a chapel rather than an ordinary house inhabited by laymen. She manifested since then her charitable compassion for the poor and the needy, for having little enough to cover her own needs, she deprived herself of it just to extend help to her neighbors. She often visited the San Juan de Dios Hospital in the ardor of charity, bringing food to the poor patients and helping them to eat herself. Mother Francisca's deeds inspired other ladies to do her work of charity, which she continued doing even after donning the habit of a "beata". At sight of her great work of charity, the prelates of the church could not begrudge her the permit she needed for the foundation of the "beaterio".