Jerónima de la Asunción

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Servant of God, Mother Jeronima of the Assumption, P.C.C.
DelaFuente.jpg
Nun and Foundress
Born 9 May 1555
Toledo,
Spain Spanish East Indies
Died 22 October 1630
Manila,
Spain Spanish East Indies
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church and the Order of St. Clare

The Servant of God Mother Jeronima of the Assumption, P.C.C. (Spanish: Gerónima de la Asunción García Yánez y De La Fuente) (May 9, 1555 – October 22, 1630) was the foundress of the first Catholic monastery in Manila and the Far East. Mother Jeronima's monastery became known as the Monastery of Saint Clare in Intramuros, Philippines. For her efforts as the first founding missionary woman in the Philippines, the Vatican issued an apostolic decree for her beatification in 1734. This monastery was immortalized in the novel, Noli Me Tangere, written by the Philippine novelist, José Rizal.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Jeronima was born in Toledo, Spain, to a pious couple, Pedro García e Yánez and Catalina de la Fuente. Her parents were both native to Toledo and were of noble lineage. Jeronima spent her childhood in Toledo, where she learned the basics of Christian life very early in life. At the age of fourteen, she met the great Carmelite reformer, St. Teresa of Jesus, O.C.D. After that meeting, she felt the calling to monastic life. She was also influenced by a biography of St. Clare of Assisi. On August 15, 1570, Jeronima entered the Colettine monastery of Santa Isabel la Real de Toledo. At this monastery, she joined two of her aunts who were already professed nuns in the community. She later occasionally functioned as Mistress of Novices.[1][2]

Voyage to the Far East[edit]

Sister Jeronima learned about the intention of her Order to establish a monastery in Manila, then part of the Spanish Empire, and volunteered to be among this pioneering community. On October 21, 1619, she received notice that her offer had been accepted. Friar José de Santa María, O.F.M., was named Procurator to arrange the necessary royal travel permits and other financial matters for the venture, while Jeronima herself was appointed as foundress and first abbess of the Philippine monastery. This monastery would be the first of its kind, both to be established in Manila as well as in the entire Far East.[1]

A pamphlet cover with a reproduced 1620 painting of Mother Jerónima.

Mother Jeronima's journey began in April 1620, with the initial group of six nuns. She was already 66 years old at that time. From Toledo, they traveled by river to Seville where they were joined by two more nuns, and then they traveled on to Cádiz. From there, the group set sail to cross the Atlantic Ocean. By late September 1620, the nuns reached Mexico City in New Spain and stayed there for about six months at a monastery of the Order. Two more nuns from that community joined the group.[1]

On Ash Wednesday of 1621, Mother Jeronima and her group left Mexico by road to cross the mountains towards Acapulco city. Once there, on April 21, 1621, the group boarded the galleon, San Andrés to sail for the Philippines.[1]

The women kept a record of their travel from Toledo to Manila. One of the nuns died during the crossing, while they were near the Mariana Islands. The rest of the group set foot in the Philippines, arriving in the port of Bolinao on July 24, 1621. They reached Intramuros, the center of Manila at the time, on August 5, 1621. Their trip from Toledo to Intramuros had lasted one year, three months and nine days.[1]

Later life, death and canonization process[edit]

Painting by Velazquez

During the last thirty years of her life, Mother Jeronima lived in constant illness. In early September 1630, her health deteriorated. She died at dawn on October 22, 1630 at the age of 75.[1] Mother Jeronima's remains were first buried in a niche within a wall inside the monastery that she founded, but later experienced five relocations. The first was in 1670 to hinder the activities of local devotees. The second happened in 1712 due to the monastery's reconstruction. At the time, they were placed in the lower choir of the monastery. The third relocation was during the British invasion of Manila in 1763, when the coffin containing her remains was transferred to the Church of St. Francis in Intramuros. The remains were brought back to the monastery in 1765. The remains survived a bombing of the monastery during World War II. In the 1950s, her bones were finally placed permanently at a new monastery at Quezon City, Philippines.[1]

Although not born in the Philippines, Mother Jeronima of the Assumption became a religious inspiration for many Catholic devotees. She was described as a woman of resolute character in managing political and religious conflicts both within and outside the confines of her monastery. Steps towards her canonization begun in 1630.[1] To date, they have not proceeded.

The Portrait of Mother Jeronima[edit]

Modern-day photographs and images of Jeronima de la Asunción are replicas of the painting done by the renowned court painter, Diego Velázquez. The portrait was composed during Mother Jeronima's stop-over in Seville, on her way to the Philippines.

The painting is described as conveying the then-sixty-six-year-old nun's "devoutness and strength of character through her stern expression and rugged countenance; her direct, outward gaze at the beholder; and her expressive accoutrements". Mother Jeronima is depicted wearing her dark religious habit while holding a tome and a crucifix. There were inscriptions on the painting. The text across the top of the canvas read "It is good to await the salvation of God in silence", while the ribbon that flows from her mouth stated "I shall be satisfied as long as He is glorified".[2][3][4]

Canonization Process[edit]

Here is the Process for Sainthood of Mother Jeronima Yanez de la Fuente.

  • Postulator: Fra Giovangiuseppe Califano, OFM
  • Petitioner: Monasterio de Santa Clara, Katipunan Ave. corner Aurora Blvd.,Quezon City, Manila 1108, PHILIPPINES

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  1. Claussen, Heather L. and Ann Arbor. Unconventional Sisterhood: Feminist Catholic Nuns in the Philippines, Issue 8, The University of Michigan Press, 2001, and A Review by Carolyn Brewer, Murdoch.edu.au, October 2002, retrieved on: June 17, 2007 - ISBN 978-0-472-11221-0 (hard cover)
  2. Lally, Father Campion, O.F.M. (Note: F. C. Lally is a missionary in Japan who has been chaplain to the Poor Clares in Japan for 49 years). Poor Clare Bibliography, Poor Clare.org, retrieved on: June 17, 2007
  3. Tantingco, Robby. First Filipino Nun was Kapampangan (Note: The first Filipino nun, Martha de San Bernardo, was a member of Doña Madre Jeronima de la Asunción's community), Sunstar.com, March 6, 2007, retrieved on: June 18, 2007
  4. Brewer, Carolyn. Holy Confrontation: Religion, Gender and Sexuality in the Philippines, 1521-1685 (Note: This is an article mentioning Jeronima de la Asunción and the Poor Clare's Bolinao Manuscript), Issue 8, October 2002, Manila: Institute of Women's Studies, St. Scholastica's College, 2001, 437 pp., and A Review by Barbara Watson Andaya, retrieved on: June 18, 2007 - ISBN 978-971-8605-29-5
  5. Bourne, Edward Gaylord. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803: Explorations, 1905, retrieved on: June 17, 2007
  6. Sanchez C. La Madre Jerónima de la Asunción y su fundación del monasterio de Santa Clara de Manila, Incidencias y consecuencias (Mother Jeronima of the Assumption and the Foundation of the Monastery of Saint Clare of Manila. Incidents and Consequences), Archivo franciscano Ibero-Oriental (Language: Spanish), Madrid, Espagne, 1994, Vol. 52, No. 205-06, pp. 379-400, Publisher: Padres Franciscanos Españoles, Madrid, Espagne, 1943, and Cat.Inist.fr, retrieved on: June 18, 2007 - ISSN 0042-3718
  7. Intramuros, Historic Walled City of Manila, Santa Clara Monastery, WordPress.com, February 19, 2007, retrieved on: June 18, 2007
  8. Monasterio de Santa Clara, Katipunan Avenue and Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines, MyTravelGuide.com, retrieved on: June 18, 2007
  9. 99 Kapampangan Who Mattered in History and Why, Center for Kapampangan Studies, HAU.edu.ph and Geocities.com, 2007, retrieved on: June 23, 2007
  10. Pascual Jr., Federico D. Religious Firsts, Postscript, ABS-CBN Interactive, ABS-CBNNews.com, March 6, 2007, retrieved on: June 23, 2007

External links[edit]