Francisca de Paula de Jesus
São João del-Rei, Minas Gerais, Brazil
|Died||14 June 1895
Baependi, Minas Gerais, Brazil
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||4 May 2013, Baependi, Minas Gerais, Brazil by Cardinal Angelo Amato|
|Major shrine||Our Lady of Conception Sanctuary, Baependi, Brazil|
Blessed Francisca de Paula de Jesus (1810 - 14 June 1895) - also known as Nhá Chica ("Aunt Francie" in Portuguese) - was a Brazilian Roman Church who was a popular religious figure in Brazil known for her humble life and her dedication to God. Nhá Chica bore no surname and was an illegitimate child born to a slave mother; she herself as a slave until being freed in 1820 which allowed her to dedicate herself to the plight of the region's poor and the construction of a Marian chapel where she resided near for the remainder of her life.
Francisca de Paula de Jesus was born (as an illegitimate) in Santo Antônio do Rio das Mortes Pequeno - a neighborhood in São João del-Rei - in 1810 to the slave Izabel Maria and it was there that she was also baptized on 26 April 1810; this means her birth took place in the first quarter of 1810. Her mother decided to relocate after being freed in 1820 so all moved to Baependi where she lived until 1895. Her maternal grandparents were also slaves. Her brother Theotonio Pereira do Armaral came from another union.
In 1820 she had dedicated her life to her faith and decided to help the poor at her mother's request as she was on her deathbed at that time; her mother's freedom was for a few months before she died. The girl now chose to live alone rather than with her half-brother and refused all marriage proposals put forward to her. Her brother died in 1862 and she was designated as his sole heir thus used her newfound inheritance to increase her social work and begin construction of a Marian chapel. Donations were used as a means for her to build the "Our Lady of Conception Sanctuary". Despite being illiterate and impoverished she welcomed the poor into her new place and became known as the "Mother of the Poor". She lived in a humble two-room hovel and constructed a small altar adorned with roses, and she was well known for giving acts of comfort and spiritual healing to those that visited her. On 8 July 1888 she drafted up a will in which she decided to leave all her possessions to her local parish and set out how she wanted the parish to distribute her possessions among the poor. She also set out how she wanted her funeral as well as the number of Masses celebrated for her soul.
Nhá Chica died on 14 June 1895 in her chapel and was entombed there on the following 18 June. It was reported that there was an unusual smell of perfume when she was buried and when her coffin was opened on 18 June 1998.
The beatification process commenced on 17 January 1992 under Pope John Paul II after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the official "nihil obstat" to the cause and titled her as a Servant of God; the diocesan process was held in Campanha from 10 October 1993 until 31 May 1995 while a supplementary process was held throughout 1998. The C.C.S. later validated these two previous processes in Rome on 12 March 1999 and received the Positio from the postulation in 2000. Historians first assessed and approved the cause on 30 October 2001 as did the theologians on 8 June 2010 and the C.C.S. on 11 January 2011. The confirmation of her life of heroic virtue on 14 January 2011 allowed for Pope Benedict XVI to name her as Venerable.
The process for the miracle required for her beatification took place in 1998 and received validation from the C.C.S. on 8 October 1999 before a team of medical experts approved it around a decade later on 13 October 2011; theologians also assented to this on 18 February 2012 as did the C.C.S. on 5 June 2012. Benedict XVI approved this miracle on 28 June 2012 and thus confirmed the beatification would take place. Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the beatification in Brazil on 4 May 2013 on the behalf of Pope Francis. The miracle that secured her beatification was the 1995 cure of the Brazilian woman Ana Lucia Meirelles who had been healed from pulmonary hypertension.
The current postulator for this cause is Dr. Paolo Vilotta.
- "Blessed Francisca de Paula de Jesus Isabel". Saints SQPN. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Short Biography of Blessed Francisca de Paula de Jesus "Nhá Chica"". Postulazione delle Cause dei Santi. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Blessed Francisca de Paula de Jesus" (PDF). Hamilton. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Get to know a Brazilian - Nhá Chica". Americas South and North. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Cardinal beatifies first lay, black Brazilian woman, "Nha Chica"". National Catholic Reporter. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- "Blessed Francisca de Paula de Jesus (Nhá Chica)". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
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