At the end of October, Francis approved what the Catholic Church considers to have been a miracle by Mama Antula: the healing of a nun who had a generalized infection in her body and who had recovered her health in the early 1900s after Antula interceded on her behalf.
Born in 1730 in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, Mama Antula founded the Holy House of Spiritual Exercises in Buenos Aires. She died on March 7, 1799, and her remains are in the church of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad, in the country’s capital.
Francisco has been enthusiastic about Mama Antula’s cause since he was a cardinal — with the name Jorge Bergoglio. While still archbishop in Buenos Aires, the pontiff showed particular admiration and always repeated a phrase: “This woman is worth gold.”
Mama Antula is considered a consecrated laywoman, as she did not enter the convent, despite not having married either. This is what Filipe Domingues explains, a Vaticanist who lives in Rome and has a doctorate in Social Sciences from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
“Laity are people who are neither priests nor religious of a religious congregation, such as Franciscans and Benedictines”, he says.
“In her case, she made a specific consecration. Some people decide to consecrate themselves even without entering an institution officially, without becoming a nun. She was not a nun. She was a lay woman and it seems that this even marked her departure a little family. She was a bit rebellious, she didn’t want to get married or become a nun”, he explains.
“Rebel” is also how the Argentine newspaper “El Clarín” describes Mama Antula. “She was a disruptive, rebellious woman who challenged the highest powers: the Spanish crown and the Catholic church. The mission she embraced until her death was to continue after the expulsion of the Jesuits from America”, says the text.
When the Jesuits were expelled from the country, María Antonia, then 15 years old, had just completed her studies at the order and spoke Quechua, an indigenous language from the countries of the Andes Mountains. Therefore, she decided to walk, literally, spreading the thoughts she believed in, for miles and for years.