Ignacia del Espíritu Santo

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Venerable Ignacia del Espíritu Santo
Foundress, Religious of the Virgin Mary
Born (1663-02-01)February 1, 1663 (postulated)
Recorded date of baptism: (March 4, 1663).
Binondo, Manila, Captaincy General of the Philippines Spain
Died September 10, 1748(1748-09-10) (aged 85)
Intramuros, Manila, Captaincy General of the Philippines Spain
Venerated in Catholic Church
Major shrine Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, RVM Motherhouse
Feast September 10, March 4
Attributes arms crossed in prayer with a rosary, needles, scissors, almsbaskets, dove, Betania retreat house
Patronage Advocate of women's rights, Women's retreat movement

Venerable Ignacia del Espíritu Santo, also known as Mother Ignacia (1 February 1663 – 10 September 1748) was a Filipino Religious Sister of the Roman Catholic Church.

Known for her acts of piety and religious poverty, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, the first native Filipino female congregation with approved pontifical status in what is now the Republic of the Philippines.[1]

Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

Early life[edit]

The birthdate of Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo is piously attributed on February 1, 1663, based on the cultural customs of the Spanish Era. Only her baptismal record is preserved, which occurred on March 4, 1663. Ignacia was christened in the long-gone Church of the Holy Kings in the fifth Parián de Chinos[2][3] by Fray Padre Alberto Collares, O.P.

Ignacia was the eldest and sole surviving child of María Jerónima, a Filipina, and Jusepe Iuco, a Christian Chinese migrant from Amoy, China. Expected by her parents to marry at 21 years old, Ignacia sought religious counsel from Father Pablo Clain, a Jesuit priest from the Kingdom of Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic). The priest gave her the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, from which Ignacia drew her religious devotion and piety. After this period of solitude and prayer, Ignacia finally decided to pursue her religious calling, to "remain in the service of the Divine Majesty” and “live by the sweat of her brow.” According to Father Murillo Velarde, her eyewitness biographer, Ignacia left her parents' home with only a needle and a pair of scissors.

Religious seclusion[edit]

Ignacia felt strongly against the Spanish prohibition that native Filipinos could not become religious nuns or priests at the time. Mother Jerónima de la Asunción was the first Spanish religious sister who came to the Philippines to establish a convent but due to the Spanish prohibition and racial attitudes against native Filipinos at the time, they were prohibited from receiving Holy Orders and joining religious congregations. In hopes of changing this racially structured ecclesiastical limitation, Ignacia began to live alone in a vacant house at the back of the Colegio Jesuita de Manila, the headquarters of Jesuits in Manila. She devoted a life of public prayer and labour which attracted other Filipino laywomen to monasticism at a time when Filipinos were barred from pursuing the religious life.

Ignacia accepted these women into her company, and though they were not officially recognised as a religious institute at the time, together they became known as the Beatas de la Virgen María (English: "Religious of the Virgin Mary") living under the Beatería de la Compañía de Jesús (English: Convent of the Society of Jesus").[1] They frequently received the sacraments at the old San Ignacio Church (which was later destroyed in the Second World War), performed many acts of public devotion there and went to the Jesuit priests for spiritual direction and confession.

Popular folk tales ascribed the penitential form of spirituality and mortification of the flesh which sustained the other women in hardship, especially during times of extreme poverty, when they had to beg for rice and salt and scour Manila's streets for firewood. The laywomen continued to support themselves through manual labour and requesting alms from other laypeople. Eventually, the growing number of laywomen called for a more stable lifestyle and a set of rules called Religious Constitution which governed their daily schedule. The association only admitted young girls and boarders who were taught catechism and given manual work.

Constitution of her order[edit]

In 1726, Ignacia wrote a set of rules of her religious order and finalised constitutions of the Congregation and submitted to the Archdiocesan Chancery Office of Manila for ecclesiastical approbation, which the Fiscal Provisor of Manila formally granted in 1732. Ignacia decided to resign as mother superior of the order and lived as an ordinary member until her death on September 10, 1748.

After her death in 1748, the Archbishop of Manila, Reverend Pedro de la Santísima Trinidad Martínez de Arizala, O.F.M., paid homage to the growing religious group of his archdiocese in his writings. He wrote:

In May 1768, the Royal Decree of King Charles III of Spain on the Suppression of the Jesuits reached Manila. It was later cemented with the approval of Pope Clement XIV which caused emotional and religious suffering for Ignacia's order as the Jesuit priests were expelled from the Philippines and deported back to Spain and Italy.

Death and Pontifical approval[edit]

In 1732, the Archbishop of Manila approved the Rules then in use among the other religious women. Ignacia had the consolation of seeing the steady growth of her small band of members. Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo died on September 10, 1748 at the age of eighty-five. She died on her knees after receiving Holy Communion at the altar rail of the old Jesuit Church of San Ignacio in Intramuros.

On July 31, 1906, the American Archbishop of Manila, Jeremiah James Harty, assisted the religious sisters in the canonical erection of Mother Ignacia's order, which was previously postponed in filing of 1732 due to incorrect process of petitioning to Rome. On 17 March 1907, Pope Pius X promulgated the Decretum Laudis (English: Decree of Praise) in favour of the congregation's Rules and Constitutions. The Decree of Approbation was granted by Pope Pius XI on 24 March 1931 which elevated the Congregation to Pontifical status.

On 12 January 1948 (the 200th anniversary of the death of Mother del Espíritu Santo), Pope Pius XII issued the Decree of Definitive Papal Approbation of the Constitutions.

As venerable[edit]

In a papal decree dated 6 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the findings of the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and declared that

Mother Ignacia Memorial Circle [1][2],(RVM Motherhouse [3] & Generalate, 214 N. Domingo, 1111 Quezon City)

On February 1, 2008, Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales presided over the promulgation which officially accorded Ignacia the title "Venerable" at the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila


Mother Ignacia Avenue in the Dilimán district of Quezon City is named after Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo as the address of both St. Mary's College, Quezon City (a private school belonging to Religious of the Virgin Mary) as well as the ABS-CBN studios and offices.

The municipality of Santa Ignacia in Tarlac is also named in honour of Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo.

Canonization Process[edit]

This is the Canonization Process of Mo. Ignacia de Espiritu Santo Juco


  1. ^ a b Mother Ignacia del Espíritu Santo, History of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, UIC.edu.ph
  2. ^ The baptismal church refers to the Church of the Three Kings in Binondo, Manila, located in the "5th section of the area, which is perhaps long gone now. The word Parián most likely refers to the Filipino-Chinese market district, where Ignacia was perhaps baptised due to the racial segregation in place at the time.
  3. ^ On the meaning of Parian: The Inculturation of Filipino: Chinese Culture Mentality pp. 228-229. by Jose Vidamor B. Yu
  4. ^ Decretum Super Virtutibus, 6 July 2007, Romae - PP. Benedictus XVI

External links[edit]