Pope Francis welcomes pilgrims from Argentina for the canonisation of Blessed Maria Antonia of Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, and praises her holiness, faith, and perseverance.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“Let us remember that the path of holiness implies trust and abandonment,” for when Blessed Maria Antonia arrived in Buenos Aires, she did so with only a crucifix and barefoot, “because she had not placed her security in herself, but in God, trusting that her arduous apostolate was His work.”
The Pope offered this reminder on Friday as he met in the Vatican with pilgrims from Argentina who are in Rome for the canonisation of Blessed Maria Antonia of Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa.
Known as Mama Antula, the Argentine-born nun founded the House for Spiritual Exercises of Buenos Aires. The soon-to-be canonised saint was born in 1730 in Silipica, Santiago del Estero, and died on 7 March 1799 in the Argentinian capital.
Pope Francis chose the date of her canonisation for 11 February 2024, the anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes.
Helping all discover beauty of following Christ
Mama Antula, the Pope said, “experienced what God wants of each one of us, that we may discover His call, each in our own state of life,” for whatever it may be, he said, “it will always be synthesised in doing everything for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
Blessed Mama Antula, he said, drew nourishment from this premise that lies at the root of Ignatian spirituality, which empowered her in her work.
It became such an important priority to her, he said, “that one of her main concerns, when the Society of Jesus was suppressed, was to give the spiritual exercises herself, seeking to help all discover the beauty of following Christ.”
Yet, as the Argentinian Pope pointed out, “this was not easy for her.” Due to the aversion that had developed against the Jesuits, she was even forbidden to give the exercises, and therefore did so clandestinely.
Firmly, joyfully rooted in the Lord
Another message the Blessed gives, the Pope suggested, is not to give up in the face of adversity, “not to give up our good intentions to bring the Gospel to all.” Even if we face hostile environments at work or in our families, one must keep the faith and try to radiate it, he said.
“Firmly rooted in the Lord,” he said, “we should see this as an occasion where we can challenge our surroundings to bring the joy of the Gospel.”
The Pope exhorted the faithful to imitate Mama Antula’s devotion to Saint Joseph and great love for the Eucharist.
Pope Francis concluded by inviting the pilgrims to bear witness to what Mama Antula shared with the Argentinean people and the whole Church, asking her to “help us in our pilgrimage, together, towards the house of the Father.”