Homily delivered by His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, during the Solemn Mass for the Promulgation of the Decree of Heroic Virtues of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo on February 1, 2008, at 9 a.m. at the Minor Basilica of
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church), Binondo, Manila)
we are gathered in a Eucharistic celebration in this old Church of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Binondo where a man older than Ignacia was baptized some 60 years before she was christened. As a little boy who grew up playing in Binondo’s Churchyard (patio), he was later noticed as a very friendly and helpful young man by the Dominican Fathers who trusted him and finally recruited him as catechist and sexton (sacristan).
Binondo: Origin of the First Saints
When the first child of Jose Iuco (Yu Kho), a Chinese Christian and Maria Geronima, a local Tagala was baptized on March 4, 1663
as Ignacia in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the man who was
a catechist and sacristan was no longer a resident and parishioner of Binondo. All that lingered in Binondo about the him was the memory of a catechist-sacristan who traveled with the Spanish Dominican missionaries to the island of Formosa and later to Japan, where he lost his life in a massacre of Christians in Japan.
the memory of him weakened
until he was simply relegated to the pages of historical reports to Rome, Spain and the annals of the Dominican religious missionaries. In the intervening centuries, hardly anyone spoke about him. In the fading years of the last millennium, however, the man was resurrected, by the grace of God and the
efforts of the Catholic Church as San Lorenzo of Binondo in the Archdiocese of Manila, the first Filipino saint.
This morning, we are gathered in the Eucharist in the same Church and Parish to thank God for the progress of that canonical process that studies the life and virtues of a woman—again from Binondo, from the same parish Church of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Ignacia Yuko, later Sister Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, who, very probably had the makings
of the first Filipina Saint. What a tremendous confluence of graces that the Philippines’ first SANTO and its first SANTA would come from the same Parish, the same Church and district in the City and the Archdiocese of Manila!
Ignacia preferred the Religious Life to Marriage
This woman, Ignacia Yuco was,
in her young womanhood, nearly given away in marriage by her parents as was the custom in those times. But her prayer life and the practice of self-discipline (now known as mortification) enabled her to stick to what she wanted. She had the mind to join the nunnery.
A Jesuit missionary priest by the name of Paul Klein who was then her spiritual director encouraged her to offer herself to God in Jesus the Lord in a new religious group
of consecrated women. They
were later known as the Beaterio Sisters, because of the Jesuit fathers’ direction, they were tagged as the “Jesuitañas.”
The early apostolate of the Beaterio sisters was closely linked with the Jesuit fathers’ mission in Luzon and in Mindanao where
the sisters taught catechism and took in girls under their care
as “dormitorians.” As Divine Providence gifted the Sisters with more vocations, their religious formation became more attuned
to the needs of the Church in
later times, taking into studious consideration the important aspects of the local culture and sub-cultures in various regions in the country. Their tremendous growth inevitably
Life. Thus the institute was finally given the Pontifical “Decretum Laudis” in 1948, when finally
they were officially known as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary or for short the RVM Sisters.
The Decree on the official recognition that Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo lived, to a heroic decree, “the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity toward God and Neighbor... as well as
the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude” is further given emphasis to the early statement that “she was
an outstanding example of the observance of humility, obedience, and disdain for earthly vanity.”
In Her Life: Three more Jewels for the Church.
HUMILITY. Humility for her is the virtue of truth about oneself (herself) before God. Mother
and pain, like Jesus, the humble shepherd even willing to lay down his life for the flock. (John 10:15).
OBEDIENCE. Obedience for Mother Ignacia is complete surrender to the Will of God. In Jesus Christ she learned that the complete triumph of God or the coming of the Kingdom is possible only to the fulfilling of His will. “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done.” God is the ultimate. For her God is also the only One that matters. But let the Church through its Superiors or Representatives speak and direct her little life in Binondo, and later on in the small communities of the early sisters and she bows in consent, obedience and complete surrender.
DISDAIN FOR EARTHLY VANITY for her is the total lack
of liking for vainglory. Modest and prudent all her life that was Mother Ignacia. Praise and recognition, even if rightly deserved, could not be the motivation of her actuations. They would not even be suitable thoughts for her prayer. What
a woman she was! And like the first Filipino Saint, she was from Binondo half Chinese and half Filipino.
The Church now recognizes this and through the decree that will
be unfolded to us, her practice of the theological virtues to a heroic decree is now officially accepted by the Church and ready to be shared with us for emulation.
That the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of the Saints cited these qualities of the saintly woman Mother Ignacia as fitting examples from her pious life meant that
for us to remember to thank God for her life and very especially
for the sisters of the Religious
of the Virgin Mary these three outstanding examples of virtues can be entrusted as legacy for the future of the Congregation and for those who pray for the development of Church and nation. May we who are gathered here learn not only to invoke her intercession but learn to live after her example.