She was also a layperson and didn’t belong to any religious order. Francisca de Paula de Jesus dedicated her life to charity and the poor.
by Samantha Silva and Lucas Soares
Now it’s official. Francisca de Paula de Jesus, the “Mother of the Poor” of Baependi, Minas Gerais (southeast Brazil), is the first black woman, illiterate and daughter of a slave to receive the title of Blessed by the Catholic Church in Brazil. The ceremony that gave the title to the woman who lived most of her life in Southern Minas Gerais began promptly at 3pm on Saturday (4).
Using umbrellas and protections, thousands of believers followed the ceremony under the sun, the best way they could. People of all ages, from children to seniors, attended the celebration. In addition to the faithful, also attending were religious authorities of the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Brazil. Gilberto Carvalho, Secretary General of the Presidency represented President Dilma Rousseff. The governor of Minas Gerais, Antônio Anastasia, also accompanied the ceremony.
Francisca de Paula de Jesus, known as Nhá Chica, will be the first black woman to be titled blessed in the country. A lay person, she did not belong to any religious order. Illiterate, she did not read the bible, but applied on a daily love of those near her and charity, which led to her coming to be known as “Mother of the Poor.”
Nhá Chica was born in São João del Rei, in Minas Gerais but lived most of her life in Baependi, where he died on June 14, 1895. Since then, there were several reports of healing through the intercession of Nhá Chica.
The process of beatification (1) began in 1993, but it was in 1995 that the process gained a decisive chapter. In July of that year, Professor Ana Lúcia Leite discovered that she had a congenital heart problem. On the eve of having surgery, she felt a strong fever and subsequent scans revealed that the problem was gone. Ana Lúcia had prayed to Nhá Chica and considers that she was healed through her intervention.
In 1998, the probable miracle was sent to the Vatican. In January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI approved the heroic virtues of the religious and appointed the title of Venerable to Nhá Chica. In October of that same year, the medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints of the Vatican approved the miracle attributed to Nhá Chica, agreeing that the cure didn’t have a scientific explanation.
A commission of cardinals of the Vatican certified the miracle in June 2012 and in the same month, Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree of beatification of Nhá Chica.
1. The process of proclaiming (a deceased person) to be one of the blessed and thus worthy of public religious veneration in a particular region or religious congregation.