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Pope Francis canonized Mama Antula in the Vatican and made her the first Argentine saint

“In honor of the Holy and individual Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of Christian life, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and Our, after having reflected at length, invoked many times divine help and listening to the opinion of numerous brothers in the Episcopate, we declare and define Saint the Blessed María Antonia de San José de Paz y Figueroa and we inscribe her in the Catalog of Saints, establishing that she be devoutly honored throughout the Church among the saints,” the Pope proclaimed.

With that formula, the creator of spiritual exercises, born in what was then the province of Tucumán in 1730, currently Santiago del Estero, and died in Buenos Aires in 1799, became the first saint in the history of the country.

“Today María Antonia de Paz y Figueroa, an Argentine saint, was canonized. Applause for the new saint,” the pontiff then called when praying the traditional Sunday Angelus from the Apostolic Palace before thousands of faithful who followed him in San Pedro Square.

Earlier, thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for the almost two-hour Eucharistic celebration presided over by the pontiff and attended, among other authorities, by President Javier Milei, who was sought by many faithful to take pictures.

Nearly 400 faithful arriving from Argentina, some with national flags, occupied the first rows of the Basilica with statues of the imminent saint, whom the Argentine bishops considered this week as the “Spiritual Mother of the Country.”

During the homily, the Pope highlighted that the new saint “walked thousands of kilometers on foot through deserts and dangerous streets,” while calling her “a model of apostolic fervor and audacity.”

In addition, Francis highlighted the work of the new saint for the “dignified life” of the poor through work and justice and daily bread and, in a passage with social content, he lamented “how many suffering people we find on the sidewalks of our cities”.

“And how many fears, prejudices and inconsistencies, even among those who believe and profess to be Christians, contribute to hurting them even more,” he denounced after warning of the “leprosy of the soul; a disease that makes us insensitive to love, to compassion, which “It destroys us through the gangrene of selfishness, prejudice, indifference and intolerance.”

In addition to the President and a delegation from the national Government, the governor of Santiago del Estero, Gerardo Zamora, and the head of Government of the city of Buenos Aires, Jorge Macri, also participated in the ceremony, among others.

The Argentine cardinals Víctor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández and Mario Poli also participated as concelebrants of the Pope; the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, the bishop of Santiago del Estero Vicente Bokalic Iglic and the head of Cáritas and bishop of Quilmes, Carlos Tissera, among other religious in the country.

Mama Antula became a saint after last October Francis approved a miracle attributed to the healing of Claudio Perusini, who recovered from an “ischemic stroke with hemorrhagic infarction in several areas, deep coma, sepsis, resistant septic shock, with failure multiorganic” thanks to the intercession of the consecrated laywoman.

The recovery of Perusini, who had been a student of Jorge Bergoglio and was present in the Basilica today, had no medical explanation, according to the Vatican’s board of professionals, which is why the miracle of Mama Antula was recognized.

In the official biography that was read at the mass, the Holy See highlighted that “María Antonia de San José de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, was born in 1730 in the province of Tucumán, in Argentina” and that “there are few information from his childhood and youth”.

“Sick, but happy to have achieved what she most desired, that is, the house for spiritual exercises in Buenos Aires, on March 6, 1799 she had her will written and the next day she gave her soul to God,” the text added. , which also highlighted that “it is estimated that in eight years of activity it organized spiritual exercises for more than 70,000 people”, after having clashed with the political and ecclesiastical authorities of the time after the expulsion of the Jesuits from the territory of the viceroyalty.

Mama Antula had already been declared blessed in 2016, with a ceremony in Santiago del Estero, after a miracle was approved in the healing of a nun of the Daughters of the Divine Savior, Sister Rosa Vanina, who would have recovered health in 1904 through the intercession of the founder and spiritual mother of this congregation.

The documentation was collected in 1905: it was acute cholecystitis, with all the symptoms of septic shock, which at that time, without antibiotics, was fatal.

In 2010, the then pontiff Benedict XVI had taken the first step towards the beatification of Mama Antula by considering her “venerable” after recognizing that she “practiced Christian virtues to a heroic degree.”

Born in 1730 in what is now the province of Santiago del Estero, and founder in Buenos Aires of the Holy House of Spiritual Exercises, Mama Antula died on March 7, 1799, and her remains currently rest in the Buenos Aires church of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad, located on Bartolomé Miter and Paraná streets.

During his pontificate, Francis already made the Argentine José Gabriel “cura” Brochero, in 2016, and the Italian-Argentine Artémides Zatti, saints in 2022.

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