Martha de San Bernardo, First Filipina Nun

Martha de San Bernardo was the first Filipina Catholic nun in both Philippine and world history

Biography

De San Bernardo belonged to an affluent and influential family in Pampanga, and was a ladina, a Spanish-speaking Filipina that had no Spanish lineage. In 1633, despite of the colonial ambience and the existing prejudices on race and gender at the time, De San Bernardo was able to secure support from the Spanish nuns of Madre Jeronima de la Asuncion’s convent, the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara in Intramuros, Manila. With the assistance of the head friar of the Franciscan Order, De San Bernardo was sent to a newly opened monastery in the Portuguese colony of Macao, a place that was not under the administrative jurisdiction of any religious order in Manila. De San Bernardo officially became a nun after leaving Manila bay and before reaching the shores of Macao, while sailing along the South China Sea, together with other Spanish women applicants to the nunnery of Poor Clares in Asia.

(Special Thanks to Filipino Saints’ Site)

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