By Christina Hermoso
Devotees will celebrate tomorrow the Feast of Saint Candida Maria de Jesus, the revered foundress of Hijas de Jesus (Daughters of Jesus), a congregation of religious women dedicated to the education of women and the youth.
Saint Candida is one of the recently canonized saints in modern history having been declared saint in the year 2010. Present in about 17 countries across the world, the missionaries of the congregation arrived in the Philippines in 1932. Tomorrow, it oversees communities and schools in Manila, Paranaque, Cebu, Iloilo, Camiguin, and Davao.
Born Juana Josefa Cipitria y Barriola on May 31, 1845 in Basque province of Guipuzcoa in Spain, St. Candida worked as a house help to help support her family. Poverty did not deter her to live a life of piety and virtue. At the age of 24, she received a message from the Blessed Mother to establish a congregation for women dedicated to the salvation of souls through the education of women and the youth.
On Dec. 8, 1871, she founded the Hijas de Jesus and began opening schools that offered Christian education, making it available to the poor, especially women, at a time when more than 80 percent of females in Spain could barely read or write.
She also offered free Sunday classes for domestic helpers.
She died in Salamanca, Spain on Aug. 9, 1912 and was declared blessed on May 12, 1996. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI canonized her on Oct. 17, 2010 in Rome, Italy.