Next Sunday, 13 October, in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis will canonise five new saints, among them ‘Dulce of the Poor’, the first saint born in Brazil. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul across the globe rejoices in this piece of news.
‘Saint Dulce of the Poor’ has been an example of holiness and charity. Her life was the proof that holiness comes down to a fully embraced charity. She endeavoured to love God with all her heart and soul and her neighbour as herself. Her exemplary life brought light to the lives of many.
‘Saint Dulce’ was a person sensitive to the suffering of the poor. Despite her frail health, she suffered with the sick, leaving behind her own sufferings, and put the pain of those who came to her asking for help first. God bestowed upon her a courageous heart to engage with private companies and government authorities, seeking to get the resources required to carry out a myriad of social works.
One of her quotes is key for all of us as Vincentians: “There is no greater joy in this world than to surrender oneself wholeheartedly to God, to serve Him in the person of our most needy sufferer”. Her legacy is remarkable and inspire us to forge ahead on the path of Charity.
“‘Dulce of the Poor’ is very much like St. Vincent de Paul when it comes to holiness, charity and love for the poor, sick and neglected children. May many Vincentian Conferences around the world embrace the name of ‘Saint Dulce of the Poor’. The Council General will be more than happy to include Conferences bearing her name.”, stated the President General, our fellow member Renato Lima de Oliveira.
In addition to ‘Dulce of the Poor’, other figures will be canonised in the same ceremony: John Henry Newman (cardinal, founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England); Giuseppina Vannini (founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus); Maria Teresa Chiramel Mankidiyan (founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family) and Margherita Bays (member of the Third Order of St. Francis).
A brief historical insight…
‘Dulce of the Poor’ (María Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes) was born in Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), on 26 May 1914. In 1933, she began her new life with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God in the neighbouring state of Sergipe (Brazil). In the same year, she made her vows and took the name ‘Dulce’ in memory of her mother. In 1935, Sister Dulce began her charitable work with the needy population in Bahia, establishing shelters, hospitals and foster homes, and implemented many others social projects.
Currently, the Social Works created by ‘Santa Dulce of the Poor’ serve about 2,000 people daily. The Brazilian Government and the Kingdom of Sweden recognised her charitable work, and, hence, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Sister Dulce died on 13 March 1992, at the age of 77. The Vatican has recognised two miracles needed for the canonisation of Blessed Dulce. Sister Dulce is also known as the ‘Good Angel of Bahia’ or ‘Mother Teresa of Latin America’. Let us pray.