Skip links

Argentina prepares for the canonization of Mama Antula

Argentina is living in a situation of eternal crisis, but Mama Antula invites us to put a note of holiness in today’s world,” explained Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva, during an exchange with journalists at the Vatican on February 8, 2024.

Maria Antonio de Paz y Figueroa (1730-1799), known as “Mama Antula,” will be canonized this Sunday, February 11. This consecrated laywoman helped spread the Spiritual Exercises in Argentina in the last decades of the 18th century. Pope Francis will preside over the mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of Argentina’s new head of state, Javier Milei.

Spreading Ignatian spirituality

Mama Antula is a popular figure in South America, where she helped keep the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola alive despite the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767 by the King of Spain, whose country then exercised colonial guardianship over these vast territories. In the context of the second half of the 18th century, Mama Antula roamed the deserts of the Tucumán region, dressed in a black habit, like the Jesuits.

She sometimes faced hostility from the local population, who at times accused her of being a madwoman and a witch. But she persevered, organizing spiritual retreats inspired by the Exercises of St. Ignatius.

She began at first in small villages. Then, starting in 1779, she went to Buenos Aires. The bishop of the city at the time eventually made her retreats compulsory for all aspirants to holy orders.

Mother of the Homeland

The house of spiritual exercises she founded in Buenos Aires was visited by over 70,000 people during the last twenty years of her life. Among them were important political figures. Some would later play a key role in Argentina’s independence, proclaimed in 1810, 11 years after her death. This indirect role makes her a “Mother of the Homeland,” according to the postulator of her cause for canonization, Silvia Correale.

She was not directly involved in politics, but she did provide “spiritual guidance to the elite, in a climate of change that would lead to separation from the Kingdom of Spain and independence a few years after her death,” Alberto Germán Bochatey, Auxiliary Bishop of La Plata and General Secretary of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, tells I.MEDIA.

The Argentine bishop emphasizes that Mama Antula “helped to open minds, particularly for the emancipation of slaves,” ensuring that freed slaves did not end up on the streets. “Faced with the difficulties of her time, she knew how to take the path of a Church on the move, as Pope Francis often says, setting out on the roads to proclaim the Gospel,” he points out.

Read more at Aleteia 

Share with Friends: