Candelaria of San José

Blessed Candelaria de San José (11 August 1863 - 31 January 1940) was a Venezuelan Roman Catholic professed religious and the founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Venezuela - also known as the Carmelites of Mother Candelaria.[1] The death of her parents in 1870 and 1887 prompted her to assume household responsibilities though in 1900 set her heart on aiding others in her area; this started in 1903 when she served as the director of a new hospital though she also tended to ill people during epidemics and conflicts that broke out over time.[2][3]

Candelaria de San José
Beata Candelaria de San José.jpg
Born(1863-08-11)11 August 1863
Altagracia de Orituco, Guárico, Venezuela
Died31 January 1940(1940-01-31) (aged 76)
Cumaná, Sucre, Venezuela
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified27 April 2008, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins
Feast1 February
AttributesReligious habit
  • Nurses
  • Carmelite Sisters of Venezuela

Her beatification was celebrated on 27 April 2008 and was the first to be celebrated on her home soil; Cardinal José Saraiva Martins presided over the celebration on the behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.


Susana Paz-Castillo Ramírez was born on 11 August 1863 in Guárico in Venezuela to Francisco de Paula Paz-Castillo and María del Rosario Ramírez. Her father died on 23 November 1870 when she was seven and her mother died on 24 December 1887; it was upon her mother's death that she assumed the responsibilities of the household. Her baptism was celebrated on 27 February 1864 in the local parish church of Nosta Senora de Altagracia and Father Juan Pablo presided.[2][3] Her maternal grandmother was the cousin of Simon Bolívar. Ramírez made her First Communion in 1879 after having received her Confirmation on 13 June 1870.

Her father earned the esteem of his neighbors; he knew natural medicine which he used to help those who asked for his help. Her mother was pious and hardworking. Both her parents offered their children the best education that the circumstances of their lives allowed. The girl was instilled with religious values - like her siblings - and in due time learned to how to read and write as well as to embroider. The death of her mother saw her tend to her cousins and siblings.[1]

The Liberation Revolution saw her tend to those who were wounded and she was charitable to those invalids who gathered at a house attached to the parochial church. In 1903 when the San Antonio hospital was founded she became its director at the encouragement of the parish priest and Servant of God Father Sixto Soda Diaz. When a nurse would tell her that there was no bread or medicine to distribute she went out with a small basket to find what was needed.[1] On 13 September 1906 - with the authorization of the local bishop - she took on a religious habit and the new religious name of "Candelaria de San José". On 31 December 1910 she founded the Carmelite Sisters of Venezuela - under its original name of the Sisters of the Poor of Altagracia de Orituco - with the profession of the first six members at the hands of Monsignor Felipe Neri Sendrea who confirmed her as the Superior General of the order. In 1916 she began an eighteen-month financial campaign to assist her order's works. On 31 December 1916 she professed her perpetual vows.[3]

The Superior General traveled far in search of resources for the support of her works founding new communities that responded to the needs of the times depending on the location; she founded two hospitals with one on the Isla de Margarita at Porlamar called the Hospice for the Abandoned and the other at Upata. But difficulties confronted the order in its earliest of stages. But on 12 July 1922 the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance arrived in Porlamar on the Island of Margarita and so Bishop Sixto Sosa Díaz gave them the parish of Saint Nicholas of Bari to operate in. But she never suspected the great gift that this new order's presence would be to her and to the difficult and dangerous work her own congregation was involved in. The congregation was soon aggregated to the Carmelites on 25 March 1925 after she made a formal petition for it be aggregated the previous 1 January and she later ceased as Superior General at the order's first General Chapter on 11 April 1937; she kissed her successor's scapular as a sign of obedience.[1] The formal reception of the Carmelite habit was on 10 July 1926. The remainder of her life was marked with a painful disease but post-1937 she continued serving the order as the mistress of novices. In 1929 an earthquake saw her tend to the people while a smallpox epidemic saw her tend to the victims in the hospital.[2]

In June 1938 she fell ill with a serious condition and her health started to deteriorate at a rapid pace after this stage. In the dawn of 31 January 1940 she vomited blood and proceeded to pronounce the name of Jesus Christ three times before she died.[2]


The beatification process started on 19 June 1980 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the official "nihil obstat" (nothing against) to the cause and titled her as a Servant of God. The cognitional process opened sometime after this in Caracas on 27 November 1983 and upon its conclusion received C.C.S. validation on 15 January 1988 before the postulation compiled and sent the Positio dossier to the C.C.S. in 1996 for assessment. Six theologians approved this on 7 October 2003 as did the C.C.S. members on 3 February 2004 while the confirmation of her heroic virtue on 19 April 2004 allowed for Pope John Paul II to title her as Venerable.

The miracle for beatification was investigated in a diocesan tribunal and received C.C.S. validation on 25 February 2000 before seven medical experts approved this healing to be an actual miracle on 24 November 2005; theologians voted likewise on 31 May 2006 as did the C.C.S. on 6 March 2007 while Pope Benedict XVI voiced his definitive and final approval to this on 6 July 2007. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins presided over the beatification on 27 April 2008 in Venezuela - the first on Venezuelan soil - with 40 000 in the main stadium where the celebration was held and another 20 000 in another one not too far off with television screens broadcasting the event. Cardinal Jorge Urosa and the nuncio Giacinto Berlocco were in attendance.[3]

The current postulator for this cause is Dr. Giovanna Brizi.


  1. ^ a b c d "Bl. Candelaria of St. Joseph (1863-1940)". Holy See. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Glueckert Files: Blessed Mother Candelaria of St. Joseph". Order of Carmelites. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Blessed Candelaria of Saint Joseph". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 13 January 2017.

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