My Faith

5 New Saints for Our Church

Have you heard? The Church has five new Saints, four of whom are women (#FeminineGenius, amiright?)!

On October 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square, at a Mass with over 50,000 attendees, Pope Francis declared Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Margurite Bays, and Giuseppina Vannini saints.

Ok but before I give you all the deets on these amazing servants of God. Let’s recap a few things about sainthood:

  1. YOU ARE CALLED TO BE A SAINT. Truly. Really. Don’t forget it.
  2. Anyone who is in Heaven is a saint.
  3. Not everyone who is a saint is a canonized “capital ‘S’” Saint.
  4. There are countless of holy men and women who are saints, whose lives we will never know about until we [God-willing] reach heaven. We celebrate the lives of these saints every year on November, 1 – All Saints Day (a holy day of obligation).
  5. The process of becoming a canonized saint is long and rigorous…

Local Bishop Investigates: The individual’s local bishop investigates his/her life (reading anything they’ve written, talking to witnesses or writings by witnesses, etc.). If the bishop thinks the individual is a valid candidate for sainthood, he submits his appeal to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. (Side note – I’m so curious to see what this process will look like in 50+ years. Will bishops be going through twitter feeds, Instagrams, Tik Toks? Probably!)

Congregation for the Causes of Saints Decision: The council can decide to either accept or reject the bishops’ proposal. If they accept, they open up their own investigation into the life of this person.

Venerable: if the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides the person lived a “heroically virtuous life” the individual is given the title “Venerable.”

Blessed: In order for a person to become “Blessed,” they must have a miracle occur through their intercession. Typically, these miracles are miracles of healing. There is a check-list of factors for the miracle to count as ‘valid.’

Saint: If a second, valid, miracle occurs the person can be declared a Saint.

Anyways, on to the important part – who are these people?!

Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes

Born: May 26, 1914
Died: March 13, 1992
Life: Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes was born in 1914 in Salvador de Bahia as Maria Rita. At the age of 13, Maria felt called to serve the poorest of the poor. After high school, she joined the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Once she made her vows, Maria took on the religious name Sister Dulce. Compelled to care for the poor and vulnerable, Sister Dulce founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce in 1959. In 1988 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her selfless work.

Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan

Born: April 26, 1876
Died: June 8, 1926
Life: Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan was an Indian mystic who cared for the poor, the sick, and lepers. Born as Thresia Mankidiyan in Kerala, India, her parents named her after St. Teresa of Avila. From a young age, Thresia had a deep and profound love for God. In 1904, Thresia had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary told her to add Mariam to her name. From that point forward, she referred to herself as Mariam Thresia. In 1909, at the age of 33, Mariam Thresia received the stigmata. The Stigmata is marks, pains, or wounds in locations that match the locations of the wounds of Christ (hands, wrists, feet, side). In 1913, Mariam Thresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family. Here, she and three companions devoted their lives to prayer, penance, and service to poor families.

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Born: February 21, 1801
Died: August 11, 1890
Life: John Henry Newman was born in the city of London on February 21, 1801, to John Newman and Jemima Fourdrinie. From a young age, he hungered for truth. This desire would ultimately lead to his conversion to Catholicism. Raised an Anglican, Newman became an Anglican priest at the age of 27, as well as a professor at Oxford. In 1845, at the age of 44, Newman converted to Catholicism. He studied theology in Rome for several years before being ordained a Catholic priest in 1847. Pope Leo XII appointed Newman as Cardinal in 1879. Interestingly, Newman had neer been a bishop (typically one must be a bishop before becoming a cardinal). Today, Newman is chiefly remembered for his theological contributions, including an incredible defense of Catholic education. He is also remembered for being instrumental in the foundation of the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin.

Margurite Bays

Born: September 8, 1815
Died: June 27, 1879
Life: Marguerite Bays was born in Switzerland to Pierre-Antoine Bays and Josephine Morel. Though we often hear about Saints who were religious sisters/brothers/priests, Marguerite Bays was a lay woman (an ‘ordinary’ member of the Catholic Church) for her entire life. She grew up to be a seamstress. Never marrying, Marguerite devoted her life to God by serving her church community (teaching young children the faith) and by working with the sick and the poor. Attending daily Mass, maintaining a strong devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as the Eucharist, were all elements of Marguerite’s deep prayer life. Rooted in the Gospel, she was called to care profoundly for her family. Like many of us, her family was not perfect – her brother was imprisoned, her sister returned to Marguerite’s home after her marriage failed, and Marguerite raised her nephew who was born out of wedlock. These things did not prevent Marguerite for loving her siblings. At the age of 35, she developed intestinal cancer. Through the intercession of Our Lady, Marguerite prayed that she might be cured and instead experience the sufferings of Christ in a profound way. On December 8, 1854, the day Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Immaculate Conception dogma, she was miraculously cured. However, every Friday she experienced some time of suffering related to the Passion. Eventually, she developed stigmata on her hands, feet, and chest. On Friday, June 27, 1879, at 3pm, Marguerite Bays died.

Giuseppina Vannini, Founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus

Born: July 7, 1859, in Rome
Died: February 23, 1911
Life: Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Vannini) was born to Angelo Vannini and Annunziata Papi. Her parents both died within a few years of each other, leaving Giuditta and her siblings orphans when she was just seven years old. Giuditta was separated from her siblings and sent to an orphanage run by Vincient Sisters. At the age of 28, Giuditta felt called to religious life and entered the novitiate of the Daughters of Charity in Siena. Due to poor health, Giuditta was unable to continue in the novitiate and was asked to leave. Still hoping to pursue religious life, Giuditta did not give up on her call from God. A few years later, in 1891, she met Father Luigi Tezza. Eventually, with his help, she founded the order of the Daughters of Saint Camillus, taking Giuseppina as her religious name. The mission of the order was to care for the sick. On December 8, 1895, she was made the Superior General of the order. Today, the order 800 sisters working in 22 countries.


St. Dulce Lopes Pontes, St. Mariam Theresa Chiramel Mankidyan, St. John Henry Newman, St. Marguerite Bays, St. Giuseppa Vannini, pray for us

Image by Emma Boback, @zelieandlou

About the Author

Caitlin Sica

I am a New Hampshire girl who’s [imperfectly] striving for sainthood one day at a time, on this messy, grace-filled journey called life. Mondays guarantee a messy bun, I run on coffee, and am always losing my keys. I’m continuing to learn to see God in the most unusual places and in the most unexpected ways. I teach theology at a Catholic high school and received my MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @CaitlinSica !