Bl. Mother Candelaria of St. Joseph (new)
(1863 – 1940) – Religious
Also Known As: Mother Candlemas of St. Joseph
Mother Candlemas of San Jose
Feast Day – February 1st
Born Susana Paz-Castillo Ramírez in 1863 in Altagracia de Orituco, in the State of Guarico, Venezuela to Francisco de Paula Paz Castillo and María del Rosario Ramírez. Her father was an honest, deeply Christian man with a great heart. Her mother was a pious woman, a hard and honest worker. She and Don Francisco offered their children the best education the circumstances of their lives allowed. Susana’s father died when she was 7 years old and the family gradually lost all they had. Her mother died on December 24, 1887 when Susana was 24. Susana took charge of the family, which in addition to her siblings also included cousins and some of her mother’s godchildren.
In 1903 two doctors at Altagracia founded St. Anthony’s Hospital, and the parish priest, Fr. Sixto Sosa, encouraged Susana to assist in running it. Soon three other helpers arrived, a little later another two came, and thus a small community of women, living and working together, began. They dedicated themselves to the sick as an expression of their desire to serve the Lord. Fr. Sosa instructed them in the basics of religious life.
On December 31, 1910 the small community was established as a diocesan Institute and known as “The Sisters of the Poor of Altagracia de Orituco”. Many difficulties confronted the Congregation in its early days. Providentially, on July 12, 1922, the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance arrived in Porlamar, on the Island of Margarita and Bishop Sosa gave them the parish of Saint Nicholas of Bari. Mother Candelaria never suspected the great gift that the Carmelite presence would be to her and to the difficult and dangerous work her Congregation was involved in.
On January 1st, 1925, Mother Candelaria made a formal petition to the Carmelite General for affiliation status; the Congregation was aggregated to the Order on March 25, 1925 and was called the Third Order of Regular Carmelites. Today the congregation is known as the Hermanas Carmelitas de Madre Candelaria. In 1927 Mother Candelaria made her perpetual vows and then received the profession of temporal vows of the other Sisters. She governed the Congregation for 35 years from its foundation to the General Chapter of 1937.
The last years of Mother Candlemas were marked by a painful disease, however, after leaving the position of General Superior, she continued serving the Congregation as Mistress of Novices. With her constant prayer, physical suffering and good example, Mother Candelaria continued to sustain her Community until her death when at dawn on January 31, 1940 after vomiting blood, she pronounced the name of Jesus three times and died.
Mother Candelaria’s Beatification was celebrated on April 27, 2008 at Caracas, Venezuela, by the Papal Legate, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Last content update 3/22/09