RIO DE JANEIRO – Maria Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes, known as “Irma Dulce” and considered to be Brazil’s answer to Mother Teresa and the first woman born in Brazil to be declared a saint, will be canonized in the Vatican in October, religious sources said on Monday.
The date of the canonization was announced by the primate bishop of Brazil and archbishop of Salvador, Murilo Krieger, during a press conference at the headquarters of the Irma Dulce social support society from where the network of hospitals for the poor that she created is administered.
“It will be an honor for Brazil and also a commitment. God is telling us that it is possible to become saints, we just have to follow the example of the little and modest Irma Dulce, who did a lot and deserved the altars honor,” Krieger said.
According to the primate bishop, the nun will be officially baptized as “Santa Dulce of the Poor” at a ceremony that will be led at 10 am local time on October 13 by Pope Francis.
The next day, a ceremony of thanks will be held in the San Antonio de los Portugueses church in Salvador. The official mass in Brazil is scheduled on October 20.
Irma Dulce’s canonization comes 27 years after her death.
The process began in 2000 when the Brazilian nun was considered a “servant of God.” Nine years later, Pope Benedict XVI granted her the title of “venerable.”
In 2010, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized the authenticity of the first miracle attributed to Irma Dulce and a year later she was beatified.
Evidence of the second miracle attributed to Irma Dulce was sent to the Vatican in 2014.
The decree by which by Pope Francis recognized it allows the nun to be consecrated as a saint.
Before Irma Dulce, two Brazilian men were canonized, saints Antonio de Sant’ Ana Galvao – known as Frei Galvao – and Spanish Jesuit Jose de Anchieta, one of the founders of the city of Sao Paulo.
Like Mother Teresa, Maria Rita de Souza devoted her life to serving the poor. In her native Bahia, she founded several hospitals and a social support network that she managed until her death at 77 years old.
Her charitable work led the former president of Brazil, Jose Sarney, to nominate her in 1988 for the Nobel Peace Prize.