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
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church and the Order of St. Clare

Servant of God Mother Jerónima de la Asunción, P.C.C. (Spanish: Gerónima de la Asunción García Yánez y De La Fuente; May 9, 1555 – October 22, 1630) was a Catholic nun who founded the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara (Royal Monastery of Saint Clare) in Intramuros, Philippines.

For her efforts in establishing the first Catholic monastery in Manila and the Far East, the Vatican issued an apostolic decree for her beatification in 1734. This monastery was immortalized in the novel Noli Me Tángere, penned by the national hero, José Rizal.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Jerónima was born in Toledo, Spain to Pedro García e Yánez and Catalina de la Fuente, pious natives of Toledo who were both of noble lineage. Jerónima spent her childhood in Toledo, where she learned the basics of Christian life very early on. At the age of fourteen, she met the great Carmelite reformer, Teresa of Ávila, O.C.D., after which she felt the calling to monastic life. She was also influenced by a biography of Saint Clare of Assisi.

On August 15, 1570, Jerónima 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 Jerónima learned about the intention of her Order to establish a monastery in Manila in the Spanish East Indies, 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 Jerónima 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 reproduction of Velázquez's 1620 painting of Mother Jerónima.

Mother Jerónima'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 travelled by river to Seville where they were joined by two more nuns, and then went on to Cádiz, from where they set sail across 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, and where 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. 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 journey from Toledo to Manila. One of the nuns died during the crossing, while the ship was near the Mariana Islands. The rest of the group set foot in the Philippines in the port of Bolinao on July 24, 1621. They reached Intramuros, the colony's capital, on August 5, 1621, one year, three months and nine days after leaving Toledo.[1]

Later life and death[edit]

During the last thirty years of her life, Mother Jerónima 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 Jerónima's remains were first buried in a niche within a wall inside the monastery, but her remains were later relocations five times. The first was in 1670 to hinder the activities of local devotees, while the second happened in 1712 due to the reconstruction work on the monastery, when the remains were placed in the lower choir. The third relocation was during the British occupation of Manila in 1763, when the coffin containing her remains was transferred to the Church of Saint Francis in Intramuros. The remains were brought back to the monastery in 1765, and later survived the aerial bombing of the city during the Second World War. In the 1950s, her bones were finally placed at the monastery's new site in Dilimán, Quezon City.[1]

Portrait[edit]

Mother Jerónima's portrait by Velázquez

Modern-day photographs and images of Jerónima de la Asunción are replicas of the depiction by the renowned court painter, Diego Velázquez. The portrait was composed during Mother Jerónima's stopover in Seville en route 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 Jerónima is depicted wearing her dark religious habit while holding a book and a crucifix.

The inscriptions on the painting read "It is good to await the salvation of God in silence" (top), while the banderole that flows from her mouth reads "I shall be satisfied as long as He is glorified".[2][3][4]

Canonisation process[edit]

Although not born in the Philippines, Mother Jerónima 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 canonisation begun in 1630,[1] but to date, they have not proceeded.

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]