Feast Day : 9 August
Saint Candida Maria of Jesus, F.I., (Spanish: Cándida María de Jesús; 31 May 1845 – 9 August 1912), was a Spanish Religious Sister and educator. She founded the Spanish Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus on 8 December 1871 in Salamanca, Spain.
She was born Juana Josefa Cipitria y Barriola in the town of Andoain, Guipuzcoa, in the Basque region of Spain. Her father was a weaver and the family was poor. Due to her family's need, she moved to Salamanca while still very young to find work. It was to remain her home for the rest of her life.
While living there, she was affected by the dire poverty she saw around her in that city and felt drawn to be of service to her neighbors in greater need, even at the risk of her employment. She declared at the time that “where there is no room for the poor, neither is there room for me”.
In 1868, when she was 23, she met Jesuit Father Miguel José Herranz, who later helped her in her call to form a congregation. Her prayers for guidance in how best to follow God's will were answered on the 2 April of the following year. It was Good Friday and she was in prayer before the altar of the Holy Family at the Church of "El Rosarillo". She then had a vision of Christ in which she was told that:
I should found a new Congregation with the title Daughters of Jesus, dedicated to the saving of souls through the education and instruction of children and youth. I felt as if out of myself, not being able to understand how that could be possible, and it seemed to me that the Virgin repeated it into my ear again and again.
I slept little or almost nothing that night and I prayed much. The following morning I went early to Church of the Campillo. There, once again, I saw what God wanted from me.
She started educating the children of the city, with a special emphasis on girls, whom she felt were particularly disadvantaged in the educational system of the day. With five companions, she was able to found the congregation on 8 December 1871 and take a religious habit. She then took her name in religion of Mother Cándida María of Jesus, being elected the first Superior General of the new congregation.
The congregation spread throughout all of Spain. It received formal approval from Pope Leo XIII on 31 July 1901. Ten years later, the congregation had grown to the point that she was able to send Sisters to establish a school in Brazil, the first foundation outside of Spain. She died on 9 August 1912.
On 12 May 1996, Mother Candida was beatified, together with another member of her congregation, Sister María Antonia Bandrés y Elósegui, by Pope John Paul II. In July 2009, a meeting took place between then-Archbishop (now Cardinal) Angelo Amato, S.D.B., the Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Pope Benedict XVI. In that meeting, the Pope formally approved a second miracle that the Congregation (first its medical panel, then the theological panel, then the prelate members) had reviewed and voted to approve.
On 17 October 2010, Pope Benedict presided at a Mass of canonization to declare that she and five other men and women were saints. In the homily he gave, Benedict praised her inspiration for other Sisters to dedicate themselves to education and the promotion of women. She was canonized at St. Peter's Square.