Tuesday, October 21, 2008


This photo of a nun I had taken at Santa Cruz, Manila, reminds me of Ignacia Incua; otherwise known as Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, a mestiza born in Binondo on February 1, 1663, to Jusepe Incua, a Chinese, and Maria Jeronima, a native Filipina. Her affluent family gave her a Christian education. She grew up very much enraptured by the story and teachings of Jesus.

At age 21, she declined a marriage proposal by a Spaniard, Captain Ricardo de Lodero y Salvacion; opting instead to devote her entire life to God. However, being not of pure Spanish blood, she was denied entry to two religious houses: Beatero de Santo Domingo and Santa Clara Monstery.

Without any other choice, she led a life in seclusion
in a house across the San Ignacio church to make it easy for her and her companions to attend mass and engage in other spiritual exercises. This house was later founded as the Beaterio de la Compañia, located at the corner of Calle Victoria and Calle Santa Lucia in Intramuros. It was to become the first all-Filipino religious congregation for women in the Philippines -- Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM, 1684).

The initial 50 members -- known as the beatas -- were comprised of lay sisters dedicated to prayer and charitable work. They supported the congregation by doing manual work and begging out in the streets. They also helped women make a spiritual retreat following the Ignatian method; assisting them in their preparation for confession and communion, and reading spiritual works for them in Tagalog. The Beaterio also admitted pupils, all girls, who received fundamental education and training in home economics.

Under the leadership of Mother Ignacia, the
beatas endured hardships, lived in extreme poverty, garbed in coarse black habit, existed on austere diet eaten on communal banana leaves, and slept in dark rooms. On top of such rigid puritanical existence, Mother Ignacia also led a severe penitential life by practicing self-flagellation and -mortification, such as lying prostrate on the floor and begging others to step on her. At other times, she was seen dragging a heavy wooden cross on her shoulders, or arms outstretched like a cross for hours on end. Hers was an astounding life filled with severe self-inflicted pain, as if desperately absolving herself from some massive guilt that gnawed at her soul.

On the day she died on September 10, 1748, she was found motionless as she remained kneeling on the communion rail of the San Ignacio Church long after receiving communion. During her interment, she was given full honors by the Spanish administration and church authorities.

Pope Benedict XVI has issued a decree bestowing Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo the title "venerable," two steps away from sainthood. The sisters of the congregation she founded, now known as the Congregation of the
Religious of the Virgin Mary, currently maintain St. Mary's College for Girls in Quezon City and run 11 colleges, 63 high schools, and 30 elementary schools throughout the Philippines. It owns more than 700 houses in the country and three in America: in Arkansas, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in Sacramento, California.

Historically, Mother Ignacia is known as the first Filipina to found a congregation for women

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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:53 AM


Blogger nutart said...

this is rather interesting post too, Eric...this time on the concept of spirituality. The beatas seem to have a negative connotation to me. I have an aunt who got out of the Carmelite nunnery and we (as children) would run away and try to evade her as much as possible. Why? Because her concept of being close to God is constantly being on your knees and reciting the rosary and its litanies the whole day. Self-mortification causes a lot of severe psychological aberrations too, don't you think? Well, it is quite so sado-masochistic in another way. But then, as I read writings about saints and martyrs, it is really a discipline of mind over body. Another source says that after a time of self-flagellation, the person develops a degree of hallucinatory sensation. Much like perhaps "knowing the face of God?"

October 21, 2008 3:10 PM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

I am just wondering when is she going to be beatified...

October 21, 2008 4:44 PM  

Blogger escape said...

we need more of them to inspire us to live a good life. it's good to know that institutions like this remains in the country. it helps a lot of the needy population.

October 21, 2008 6:05 PM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

Senyor, Thanks for posting this. I'm a Marian, you know. I have also taught in many RVM schools in the past, particularly St. Mary's Academy in Manila, and St. mary's College in Quezon City

October 21, 2008 10:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. I went to one of the high schools run by RVM sisters and your post brings back memories. I was awarded Outstanding MIDES member on our graduation and even thought of joining the congregation myself but God has other plans for me. I am praying for the time when she finally become a saint. I adore Mother Ignacia dearly.

October 21, 2008 10:53 PM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

Glad to be back reading your blog. I missed so much since I was extremely busy with the planning and preparation of my first solo art show last September 27, 2008. Now that my successful and beautiful art show is over I have more time to blog and to comment. Your lastest post is very inspiring. Today, it's rare to find a dedicated person but they still do exists. By the way, I hope you visit my art blog too. I just posted photos of my recent art show. Also, please e-mail me your home address, so I can send you a copy of my art brochure:

October 22, 2008 12:29 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

We also have a similar aunt in the family, Bernadette -- my father's sister. I think she turned many people off with her strict adherence to and supercilious attitude about Catholicism.

Modern day psychotherapists may deem the practice of self-flagellation as an intense need to purge one's self of some debilitating guilt. During the '70s, there was a movie that starred Ken Russel, "The Devils," in which a scene of a group of nuns engaging in self-flagellation literally disturbed me and gave me nightmares.

I think that a need to "know the face of God" suggests man's tendency to humanize God.

October 22, 2008 8:06 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think having founded a congregation for women and schools, including leading a lifetime of extreme hardship may have been sources of divine bliss for Mother Ignacia, Mario.

October 22, 2008 8:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I agree with you, donG!

October 22, 2008 8:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! It's wonderful to know of someone who had taught at one of Mother Ignacia's schools, Dennis :)

I assume they now take in male students as well?

October 22, 2008 8:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Congratulations for the Outstanding MIDES award, Guy! It is indeed heart-warming to know of fellow bloggers who, in one way or another, had been affiliated with one of Mother Ignacia's "fruits of her labor;" in this instance, her schools :)

October 22, 2008 8:17 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Congratulations to you, too, Ebb Tide for your successful art exhibition! Hope to that you'll also hold a similar exhibit here in Manila. Can't wait to see your photos and brochure :)

October 22, 2008 8:19 AM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

Very interesting. Glad you wrote about her.

October 22, 2008 8:26 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Glad you enjoyed this post, Photo Cache.

Yes, I think we ought to highlight more the lesser known folks with great contributions to our country :)

October 22, 2008 8:38 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric. This is the first blog i found who talked about Mother Ignacia. I too, was a Marian. Being a student of an RVM school for 11 years (kindergarten to high school), It has been a daily chore for us to recite prayers for the beautification of the RVM founder.

October 22, 2008 3:38 PM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

The first series of photos from my solo art show are already posted on my blog:
Please don't forget to e-mail me your home address so I can send you a copy of my recent art show brochure: for-eve-r@att.net

October 23, 2008 12:46 AM  

Blogger EM said...

That is a very inspiring story Senior. Such devotion to faith is very rare and those who found themselves in it are truly blessed. May we all find inspiration and hope when we reflect on their lives.

Thanks for sharing...

October 23, 2008 5:05 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! Great to know of another Marian! Truly wonderful to learn of the many 'fine' folks produced by Mother Ignacia's schools, like you Rey :)

Trust all is well with you and the family.

October 23, 2008 7:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's some grand art show you had, Ebb Tide. Great photos, too! Congratulations!

And thank you for the brochure :)

October 23, 2008 7:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you, EM :)

Thank you, too!

October 23, 2008 7:17 AM  

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