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Life of Venerable Francisca del Espiritu Santo

V. Rev -Fr. Joaquin Fonseca, O.P. (1840) 
Reference: Fr. Joaquin Fonseca, O.P., Historia delos PP. Dominicos en las
Islas Filipinas. Madrid, 1871. Volume IV, pp. 134-138

 

In the same Assembly (Provincial Chapter) a report was made to the Province about the recent death of the venerable religious of Santa Catalina, Sor Francisca del Espiritu Santo, whose memoryw as honored prominently in these Acta, which rendered a tribute of admiration to her virtues. She was a native of this city says a chronicle, and she had embraced in her youth the state of matrimony, but this Christian maiden lived so retired, so recollected and so devout in her state that she seemed to be more a religious than a married woman. Never failing in the social manners and customs; ever amiable and equipped with the finest exquisite educ3tion, she knew how to hide neatly under her feminine adornings the ordinary instruments of mortification and penance and was able to comply with the obligations imposed by our holy religion I which she practiced fervently with Christian liberty.

Having lost her husband while she was still very young she refused constantly to marry again, preferring holy continence and a widow's chastity to the more legitimate satisfaction of a home. Since she did not have children nor a family to claim her attention she was more apt to consecrate herself in prayer and other exercises of a penitent life. Her quiet and solitary home looked like a monastery at all times. She spent her exterior life in visiting the sick in their bed of pain consoling and helping them, sharing among the poor the residues from her rentals. Her animation and her example inspired the other matrons of this Christian community and imitating her way of life, they also devoted themselves to pious exercises.


Despite such an austere and exemplary life our young maiden, fearful of being trapped in any of the deceitful nets of the world became forearmed. She resolved, then to be admitted in any of the religious institutes; however, she wavered for a long time in her decision, and so that she may not err in such a decision regarding her moral destiny, she placed herself in the hands of the Virgin, asking her through her holy rosary, to inspire her to do what was most acceptable to the Most High. Her prayers were heard.


It is well known that while she was praying in the middle of the night she saw or she seemed to see the patriarchs St. Dominic and St. Francis who: beckoned to her to follow their luminous footsteps. Then she felt that her soul was attracted pleasantly towards the Spanish Patriarch without knowing the cause of this divine secret. When she came to herself and became scrupulous about the phenomenon which she had seen and experienced in prayer she found her problem solved and she decided to ask the habit of the Third Order of Jour holy patriarch. She consecrated herself with renewed fervor to prayer, increased her penitential practices, prolonged her spiritual exercises until finally, she attained the fulfillment of her vows with the foundation of the beaterio de Santa Catalina for which she had craved for a long time, prophesying much ear1ierto Fray Juan de Sto. Domingo the future realization of her dreams.

The beaterio having been established, Sor Francisca was certainly the first stone of this foundation, since the first office of prioress was entrusted to her which she discharged with edification until her death. Her zeal for the regular observance, her love and charity towards all, and the perfect prudence which she manifested in the government of the house gave proof beyond doubt that she had been inspired by the spirit of God, in order to start the watering and cultivation of the garden which in its own time would produce such exquisite flowers in order to perfume the bedchambers of the heavenly Spouse. She was always the first to comply with the rules and duties which made up the model of a perfect religious. Notwithstanding the severity with which she treated herself she was all sweetness towards her associates and it was evident in all her works and charity that capacity for clemency which makes up the greater eulogy to the strong woman as described by Solomon in the Proverbs.


She was, however, blamed for being very rigid in her interior dispositions to guarantee the fulfillment of the religious obligations, however, all this was necessary in order to imprint on the new institution that spirit of fervor and observance which had distinguished her at all times. What purified most the inexhaustible patience of our venerable religious was the boldness and insistence of His Lordship Camacho in wanting to subject the beaterio to his jurisdiction. There is no need of repeating the tribulations and bitterness for which she suffered, as did all her Sisters and leave them narrated in previous books.

Her constancy having been tried in so many difficult situations and never having lost courage a bit with regards to her religious and penitent life she reached the age of 63 years full of merits and virtues. For her greater consolation, says a text, the Holy Eucharist was administered to her twice a week and having known herself that the end of her existence was fast approaching she asked for Holy Unction with joyful and ardent desire and a little later she slept sweetly in the arms of the Lord who received her in His bosom as His beloved spouse. She died on the 24th of August, 1711, leaving in this capital a pleasant odor of sanctity.


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