Pope Francis received pilgrims coming from Argentina on the occasion of the canonization of Blessed Maria Antonia by Saint Joseph de Paz y Figueroa, known as Mama Antola, and praised her holiness, faith and perseverance.
By Deborah Castellano-Luboff
“Let us remember that the path of holiness involves trust and renunciation,” because when Blessed Maria Antonia arrived in Buenos Aires, she did so with only a cross and bare feet, “because she placed her security not in herself, but in God, trusting that her hard apostolic work was his. “
The pope made that reminder Friday when he met at the Vatican with pilgrims from Argentina who are in Rome for the beatification of Blessed Maria Antonia by St. Joseph de Paz y Figueroa.
The Argentine-born nun, known as Mama Antola, founded the House of Spiritual Exercises in Buenos Aires. The soon-to-be canonized saint was born in 1730 in Celibica, Santiago del Estero, and died on March 7, 1799 in the Argentine capital.
Pope Francis chose the date of her canonization as February 11, 2024, the anniversary of the first appearance of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes.
Helping everyone discover the beauty of following Christ
“We have experienced what God wants from each of us, so that we can discover his vocation, each one in our own life situation,” whatever it may be, “will always be gathered together in doing everything for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls,” Pope Antola said.
He said that Blessed Mama Antola drew nourishment from this hypothesis, which lies at the roots of Ignatian spirituality, and which enabled her work.
He said that the matter became an important priority for her, “so that one of her main concerns, when the Jesuit order was suppressed, was to give spiritual exercises herself, seeking to help everyone discover the beauty of following Christ.”
However, as the Argentine Pope noted, “it was not easy for her.” Because of the antipathy that arose against the Jesuits, she was forbidden even to perform the exercises, and thus she did so secretly.
Firmly and joyfully rooted in the Lord
The Pope suggested that another message offered by the Blessed One is not to give up in the face of adversity, “and not to abandon our good intentions to communicate the Gospel to everyone.” He said that even if we face a hostile environment at work or in our families, one must maintain the faith and try to radiate it.
“Rooted in the Lord, we must see this as an occasion in which we can challenge our surroundings to bring the joy of the Gospel,” he said.
The Pope urged the faithful to emulate Mama Antola's devotion to St. Joseph and her great love for the Eucharist.
Pope Francis concluded his speech by calling on the pilgrims to bear witness to what Mama Antola shared with the Argentine people and the entire Church, asking her to “help us in our pilgrimage together toward the House of the Father.”
“Lifelong food lover. Avid beeraholic. Zombie fanatic. Passionate travel practitioner.”