Interview to Ms. Berenise Bravo Rubio / INAH historian
Felipe de J. Monroy González
The paleographer and historian Ms. Bravo redacted the biography of Mother Maria Amada del Niño Jesus Sanchez Muñoz for the Positio of her Cause for Canonization.
With the introduction of the Positio of the Servant of God Mother Maria Amada del Niño Jesus Sanchez Muñoz, founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the altars candidate meets one of the first requirements that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints requires for beatification.
The Positio is a comprehensive and definitive biography on the life and circumstances of a candidate and requires of a solid historical work, and represents a challenge for any modern historian or researcher. Ms. Berenise Bravo Rubio, a historian professor and researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH in Spanish), elaborated this biography in conjunction with the nuns of the congregation founded by Mother Maria Amada. This enterprise lasted nearly eight years and the work completed is called: "From Noble and Great Aspirations. Life and Work of Mother Maria Amada del Niño Jesus Sanchez Muñoz ".
The historian and the congregation worked together for almost eight years in order to meet all the requirements of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The historical study should show the cultural, social, political and religious context of the candidate, should address her human and spiritual profiles, and finally, should be written with a very solid critical point of view.
Ms. Berenice: "The project began in 2004 when Mr. Jorge Garibay told me about the opportunity to work in the Cause of Canonization of Mother Maria Amada, this cause was officially opened by Cardinal Norberto Rivera in September 2003."
Ms. Rubio met with Mother Nieves and together elaborated a documentary work on the life of Mother Maria Amada. "Hundreds of testimonials, letters, lectures, reports, licenses, etc., were read for nearly six years in order to rebuild the religious’ life. "
Fortunately, the missionaries patiently engaged to compile and catalog the historical material for the biography of their founder. "There is a file specifically for the Cause of Mother Maria Amada, they have been working since 2004; they have consulted over a hundred files between ecclesiastical and municipal to harvest all documents about Mother Maria Amada and which have served as a testimony for her nomination during the Diocesan and Roman phases of the Cause of Canonization ".
Additionally, Ms. Rubio had two oral testimonies of the nuns who worked with Mother Maria Amada.
Thus, the book "From Noble and Great Aspirations" served as a solid foundation for the Positio presented to the appropriate authorities for canonization.
Q: Is it a challenge for a researcher a work of this nature?
A: Without a doubt. First, because the biography should serve to the experts of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints as a benchmark, a starting point and reference material in their investigations of the application, but also the biography hopes to promote the work, so that those who do not know the person or the work performed, really know part of that life.
Q: Is it satisfactory for a professional like you to work on a biography of a candidate for canonization?
A: For me it was like making a new thesis, it requires much effort and rigor. As stipulated by the Congregation for Saints, professionals in history should write the biography and there are many historians working on these cases. Moreover, it is very fulfilling personally and professionally, just to have an opportunity to access and read documents that otherwise one could not do. Historians usually trace the political and social aspects, but understanding the spiritual context requires new challenges.
Mother Maria Amada del Niño Jesus was born in 1895 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and even though her family was of limited resources, she managed to study at the “Normal Católica de Guadalajara” thanks to the spirit of solidarity, the promotion of the common good, and social justice prevailed by the Catholic Church after the publication of the encyclical Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII. "In her first 18 years of life, she was a participant of the spirit of catholics for appreciate, comprehend and accept the precepts of the common good. We described how Amada´s father and she taught the catechism, reading and writing to the hacienda´s workers. From that moment on she takes her compromise on education of the poor children of workers. "
Subsequently, the biography recounts her passage by the Congregation of the Incarnated Verb in the middle of a religious persecution in Mexico and the foundation of the company, precursor of the Congregation of Missionaries of Guadalupe. Thereafter, it recounts the avatars of this congregation and its growth and service.
The book consists of ten chapters and the related events in chronological order.
Q: What is the most striking about Mother Maria Amada´s personality?
- Her intense spiritual life and that she demands of her sisters. The vows of poverty and foundations that she established, the first schools in working class, marginalized, and indigenous areas. Her apostolate dedicated primarily to the poor, indigenous, elderly and abandoned children by founding schools, hospitals, boarding schools and orphanages. All done under the inherent difficulty of the time, in the persecution and insecurity from legal recognition of her institution. She was an exceptional religious, with a special charisma to reach agreements with civil authorities, for example, she manages the construction of water wells in Ixmiquilpan for indigenous communities and poor people, and she organizes activities to recollect resources for schools. I also was impressed by the work she did with two very distinguished bishops on social issues in Mexico: Sergio Mendez Arceo, Bishop of Cuernavaca, and with a young Samuel Ruiz, Bishop of Chiapas.