Martha de San Bernardo

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Martha de San Bernardo, P.C.C., was a 17th-century Colettine Poor Clare who was first Filipino woman to become a Roman Catholic nun and renowned Catholic pending for the cause for Beatification alongside with Maddalena de la Concepcion, a religious from the Poor Clares.[1][2][3]


While her birth name is lost, it is recorded that she was a ladina (a Spanish-speaking native of the Philippines who had no Spanish ancestry) who belonged to an affluent and influential family from the Province of Pampanga on the island of Luzon, then part of the Spanish East Indies. Inspired by the lives of the Colettine nuns who had arrived from Spain in 1621 under the leadership of Mother Jeronima de la Asuncion, P.C.C., and established the Royal Monastery of St. Clare in Intramuros, she wished to become a nun herself. In this she was able to secure the support of the monastic community. Due, however, to the colonial regulations of the Spanish Empire which ruled the islands and the existing prejudices of the period, she was barred from being admitted to that monastery.[4]

Instead, in 1633, with the assistance of the Minister General of the Franciscan Order, she was sent to a newly opened monastery in the Portuguese colony of Macau. She was formally received into the Colettine Order on board a ship while sailing the South China Sea with the Spanish candidates to the Order, at which time she was given the religious name by which she is now known, .[1][2][3]

Mother de San Bernardo's death is unidentified whether where she died or when. Yet the Colettine Poor Clares officially gave a year, that it was on 1639-40 at Macao, China where died in her mission.


Martha de San Bernardo is being in consideration for a declaration of sainthood, but her cause has not yet been approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Holy See.

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