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Pope Francis prays during the Mass for the canonisation of St Maria Antonia de Paz Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, in St Peter’s Basilica yesterday (CNS/Vatican Media)

St María Antonia de Paz Figueroa, known as Mama Antula, devoted herself to helping others experience God’s closeness and compassion, Pope Francis said after he declared the 18th-century consecrated laywoman a saint. Source: OSV News.

By letting her heart and life be “touched” and “healed” by Christ, he said, “she proclaimed him tirelessly her whole life long, for she was convinced, as she loved to repeat: ‘Patience is good, but perseverance is better.’”

“May her example and her intercession help us to grow according to the heart of God, in charity,” the Pope said in his homily after proclaiming her a saint during a Mass on February 11 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. María Antonia de Paz Figueroa is Argentina’s first female saint. She was closely tied to the Jesuits and continued to lead Ignatian spiritual exercises in Argentina after the expulsion of the order.

Argentine President Javier Miliei was present at the Mass and is due to have private meeting with the Pope today. At the end of yesterday’s Mass, the two shook hands, spoke briefly, smiled and laughed. The President, who has made disparaging remarks about the Pope in the past, leaned down and gave a big hug to the Pope, who was seated in his wheelchair.

Claudio Perusini, whose unexplained recovery from a severe stroke became the second miracle attributed to the new saint, also was present. He has known the Pope since he was 17 and he, his wife and two adult children brought the offertory gifts to the Pope during the Mass.

Later, after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled the day’s celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick.

“The first thing we need when we are sick is the closeness of loved ones, health care workers and, in our hearts, the closeness of God,” he said. “We are all called to be close to those who suffer, to visit the sick” the same way Jesus did with “closeness, compassion and tenderness.”


Pope Francis canonises Argentina’s first female saint (By Carol Glatz, CNS via OSV News)