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August 13

St Dulce Lopes Pontes - August 13

Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes 

Sister, Founder
Mother Teresa of Brazil

(1914 – 1992)

If there were more love, the world would be different; if we loved more, there would be less war. It all comes down to this: Do your best for your brother, and therefore there will be peace on earth.”

Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Maria Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, on May 26, 1914 as the second daughter of Augusto Lopes Pontes and Dulce Maria de Souza. She was a joyful and active child who enjoyed soccer.

Her father, Augusto, was a dentist and professor, well-known and remembered for his dedication to the poor. His life of humility and charity no doubt had their effect on his daughter. However, it was a visit with her Aunt Madalena to a poor neighborhood at the age of 13 which proved to be the crucial turning point in her life. This encounter with poverty inspired the young Maria to begin caring for the poor and the sick in her own home, soliciting her family and neighbors for resources to assist her in her work.

Sister Dulce

After graduating from high school with a teaching qualification, Maria left for the Brazilian municipality of São Cristóvão in the neighbouring state of Sergipe in order to begin her new life with the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SMIC). When she made her vows, Maria took the name Dulce in memory of her mother, who had died when Maria was only seven years old.

Commitment to the Poor

Determined to house sick people who came to her for help, in 1939, Sister Dulce started to shelter them in abandoned houses in Salvador’s ‘Ilha dos Ratos’ (rats’ island) district. Then, she would go in search of food, medicine and medical care. Later, when she and her patients were evicted from the neighborhood, she started housing them in an old fish market, but City Hall denied her the use of the space and told her to leave.

Facing a big problem and already taking care of over 70 people, Sister Dulce turned to the Mother Superior of her convent and asked her permission to use the convent’s chicken yard as an improvised hostel. Her Mother Superior reluctantly agreed, so long as she could take care of the chickens (which Sister Dulce did, by feeding them to her patients). That improvised hostel gave rise to the Hospital Santo Antonio, a hospital consisting of 150 beds, that has became the center of a medical, social and educational complex.

Founded Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce

Sister Dulce helped found the “São Francisco’s Worker’s Union”, the first Christian worker’s movement in Bahia, Brazil. But, her most lasting legacy would be in the area of healthcare with the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce (Obras Sociais Irmã Dulce or OSID).

Sister Dulce founded this organization in 1959 with statutes drawn up by her father Augusto. This foundation is one of the foremost charitable healthcare organizations in the entire country, specializing not only in healthcare, but also in education and scientific research. Performing more than 5.6 million outpatient procedures per year and serving 1.2 million meals per year to patients, it is open to a broad range of people in need, including the elderly, the homeless, children and adolescents considered “at risk”, victims of addiction, and people with disabilities and deformities.

Educational Services

Her charitable foundation OSID helped establish CESA (Santo Antônio Educational Center), a school for the poor in Simões Filho, one of the most impoverished cities in the Metropolitan Area of Salvador and in the State of Bahia. There, OSID provides free educational programs for approximately 800 children and young people ranging in age from 6 to 19 years old. In addition, CESA has developed a complementary program of educational, physical and professional development activities to help students learn more effectively and enrich their lives.

Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Sister Dulce’s work impressed the President of Brazil, José Sarney, who in 1988 nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize. She had the opportunity to meet with Mother Teresa once and Pope John Paul II twice – the second time as she lay in the hospital, not long before her death.

Her Death

During the last 30 years of her life, Sister Dulce’s lungs were highly impaired. She had only 30% breathing capacity. In 1990, her respiratory problems began to worsen and she was hospitalized. After being hospitalized for 16 months, at the age of 77, Sister Dulce died on 13 March 13, 1992 in Santo Antônio’s Convent in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. She was buried at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

On June 9, 2010, Sister Dulce was finally buried at the Imaculada Conceição da Madre de Deus church, in Salvador, Bahia. It was discovered that her body was naturally incorrupt and even her clothes were still preserved 18 years after her death.

 

Born :                  May 26, 1914 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Died:                   March 13, 1992 in Santo Antônio’s Convent in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Beatified:           May 22, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI

Canonized:        October 13, 2019 by Pope Francis

Feast Day:          August 13

Patron Saint:     Bahia, Brazil; Healthcare Workers; Hospital Administrators; Social Workers

Source:

Reflection

In contemplating the life of Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes, we are challenged to reflect on our own capacity for compassion and service. Her story inspires us to examine how we can make a positive difference in the lives of others, particularly those who are marginalized or in need. Her example encourages us to cultivate compassion, embrace selflessness, and work towards justice in our own lives and communities. She exemplifies the transformative power of love, faith, and service to others. She serves as a beacon of hope for a world in need of compassion and healing.

What small act of kindness can you to do today to be an example of Jesus to those in need around you to be a beacon of hope?

 

Prayers

Saint Dulce,
You who dedicated your life to serving the poorest of the poor, You who saw the face of Christ in the suffering, We turn to you in prayer and supplication.

You were a beacon of hope and love, a shining example of selflessness and compassion. Help us, dear Saint Dulce, to follow in your footsteps, to see the needs of the marginalized and the downtrodden, and to respond with love and care.

Intercede for us before the throne of God, that we may be filled with the same spirit of charity that guided your every action. Help us to remember the importance of justice and advocacy, and to work tirelessly for the betterment of all humanity.

Pray for us and grant us the grace to imitate your love, so that we may bring light to the lives of those in darkness, and relief to the hearts burdened by suffering.

Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Meet the five new saints of the Catholic Church

British Broadcasting Corporation – ‘Brazil’s Mother Teresa’ edges to sainthood

Catholic Online – Woman who served Brazil’s poorest to be canonized

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Maria Rita Lópes Pontes de Souza Brito

Mary Pages – Saint Dulce Lopez Pontes

Salt and Light Catholic Media – All about Blessed Dulce Lopes Pontes – the Good Angel of Brazil by Kristina Glicksman

Salvador Bahia-Brasil – 13 facts about Saint Dulce of the Poor you’ll love knowing

Vatican News – Dulce Lopes Pontes: From serving the sick to Nobel nominee

Video Link

Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes, the “good angel of Bahia” will be raised to the altars – YouTube (Rome Reports)