Pope Francis welcomes pilgrims from Argentina for the canonization of Blessed Mary Antonia of Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, praising her holiness, faith and perseverance.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
“Let us not forget that the path of holiness involves trust and surrender,” for when Blessed Maria Antonia arrived in Buenos Aires, she did so wearing only a crucifix and bare feet, “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 when he met at the Vatican with pilgrims from Argentina who are in Rome for the canonization of Blessed Mary Antonia of Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa.
The Argentine-born nun known as Mama Antula founded the House of Spiritual Exercises of Buenos Aires. The soon-to-be canonized saint was born in 1730 in Silipica, Santiago del Estero, and died on March 7, 1799 in the Argentine capital.
Pope Francis chose the date of her canonization as February 11, 2024, the anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes.
Helping everyone discover the beauty of following Christ
Mama Antula, said the Pope, ‘experience what God wants from each of us, so that we may discover His vocation, each in our own state of life’, because whatever it may be, he said, ‘it will always be joined in doing everything for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
Blessed Mama Antula, he said, drew nourishment from this principle, which is the basis of Ignatian spirituality, which gave her strength in her work.
It became such an important priority for her, he said, “that one of her main concerns, when the Society of Jesus was suppressed, was to give the spiritual exercises herself, in an effort to help everyone discover the beauty of following to discover Christ.’
Yet, as the Argentine Pope noted, “this was not easy for her.” Because of the aversion that had arisen against the Jesuits, she was even forbidden to give the exercises, and therefore did so clandestinely.
Firmly and joyfully rooted in the Lord
Another message that the Blessed One gives, the Pope suggested, is that we should not give up in the face of adversity, “that we should not give up our good intentions to bring the Gospel to everyone.” Even if we face hostile environments at work or in our families, we must keep the faith and try to radiate it, he said.
“Firmly rooted in the Lord,” he said, “we should see this as an opportunity where we can challenge those around us to bring the joy of the Gospel.”
The Pope urged the faithful to imitate Mama Antula’s devotion to Saint Joseph and great love for the Eucharist.
Pope Francis concluded by inviting pilgrims to bear witness to what Mama Antula shared with the Argentine people and the entire Church, asking her to “help us together in our pilgrimage to the Father’s house.”