A miracle was attributed to Mother Catalina de María Rodríguez last week, advancing her beautification cause. CNA Photo

An Argentine nun's beatification cause is advancing

By 
  • January 25, 2017

VATICAN CITY – The theological commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved last week a miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Catalina de María Rodríguez, foundress of the Slaves of the Heart of Jesus.

Following the Jan. 19 approval, the next step for her beatification is approval of the miracle by a commission of cardinals in the congregation.

The miracle is the healing, 19 years ago, of a woman in Argentina's Tucuman province who had severe heart disease.

In the event that the miracle is approved by the commission of cardinals, they must draw up the decree of beatification to be presented to Pope Francis.

Saturnina Rodríguez de Zavalia, who took the name Catalina de María in religious life, was born in Cordoba, Argentina in 1823. Her mother died when she was three, and her father when she was nine. Thereafter she was cared for by her aunts.

She did the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius at age 17 and felt a call to an active religious life, but in Argentina at the time, there were only contemplative orders of women.

She dedicated herself to promoting the spiritual exercises and in 1852 she married Manuel Antonio de Zavalía, a widower with two children. She was strongly encouraged to do so by a secular priest, Fr. Tiburcio López, whom she had taken as her spiritual director when the Jesuits were expelled from Cordoba.

Zavalia had threatened suicide if Saturnina refused him, and Fr. López declared her responsible for the salvation of his soul, and she took the marriage to be God's will.

Saturnina conceived one child, who was stillborn, and Zavalia died in 1865.

After her husband's death, her desire to enter religious life re-emerged, as she was adoring the Blessed Sacrament. She was inspired to form a community serving following the rule of St. Ignatius Loyola and forming vulnerable women with its spirituality.

After seven years of trials and setbacks, she still maintained her spirits because “that idea was embedded in my soul and even if I wanted to I could not do away with it” and in those attempts to pursue her dream said, “I found consolation in God, from whom I hoped for everything, and I never lacked confidence in him.”

Finally, on Sept. 29, 1872, she founded the Slaves of the Heart of Jesus, the first congregation of apostolic life in Argentina.

The order spread across Argentina, and is today also present in Chile, Spain, and Benin.

Mother Catalina de María worked during her religious life with Saint José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the “Gaucho priest”, sending 16 sisters of her congregation to a school he had founded.

She died April 5, 1896 at the motherhouse of her congregation, when more than 200 women had joined her community.

Her cause for canonization was opened in 1941, and she was named a Venerable in 1997. The acknowledgement of a miracle worked through her intercession opens the way to her beatification.

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