Jerónima de la Asunción
|Servant of God, Mother Jeronima of the Assumption, P.C.C.|
|Nun and Foundress|
|Born||9 May 1555
|Died||22 October 1630
|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.
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.
Voyage to the Far East
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.
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.
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.
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.
Later life, death and canonization process
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. 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.
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. To date, they have not proceeded.
The Portrait of Mother Jeronima
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".
Here is the Process for Sainthood of Mother Jeronima Yanez de la Fuente.
- Opening of Informative Process: 17 February 1631
- Closing of Informative Process: 11 May 1633
- Decree on Writings: 19 March 1733
- Introduction of Cause: 24 September 1734
- Opening of Apostolic Process: 4 February 1740
- Decree of “Non Cultu”: 22 September 1741
- Opening of Supplementary Inquiry: 15 July 1989
- Closing of Supplementary Inquiry: 1 February 1990
- Decree of Validity of Informative and Apostolic Processes and Supplementary Inquiry: 4 October 1991
- Submission of Positio to CCS: 1992
- Session of Historical Consultants: 28 April 1992
- Particular Meeting of Theological Consultors: 16 November 2004
- Session of Cardinal and Bishop Members of the CCS:
- Postulator: Fra Giovangiuseppe Califano, OFM
- Petitioner: Monasterio de Santa Clara, Katipunan Ave. corner Aurora Blvd.,Quezon City, Manila 1108, PHILIPPINES
- The First Filipino Saint
- Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, New York
- Ignacia del Espiritu Santo
- The Religious of the Virgin Mary
- Three Fertility Saints of Obando, Bulacan, Philippines
- Colettine Poor Clares
- The First Filipino Nun
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