Pope Francis proclaimed five new saints on October 13th during the Extraordinary Missionary Month. We have already met four of them. And today, after the Solemnity of All Saints, we end this series of acquaintances with another extraordinary personality – Saint Dulce Lopes Pontes.
“Following the example of St. Therese, I think that all small acts of love, no matter how small, should be brought to Baby Jesus’’, – said sister Dulce Lopes, twice a Nobel Prize winner, and a woman who built the largest charitable organization in Brazil, icon of mercy of the 20th century.
Maria Rita Lopes was born May 26, 1914 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Sister Dulce began her ministry at the age of 16, when she sheltered children and the elderly in the basement of her house. At 18, Dulce joined the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, where she continued her ministry with the poor.
Once sister Dulce had to look for a shelter for seventy patients whom she was taking care of because they had been kicked out of the old building and into the streets. The Mother Superior then gave sister Dulce the monastery’s chicken house, asking her to take care of the hens as well. Sister Dulce famously coped with all the errands, chopped the chicken into pieces and fed her patients with an excellent chicken dish. Today, this henhouse has become St. Anthony’s Hospital, where more than 3,000 patients are treated daily.
Sister Dulce continued her small acts of love and soon founded a Catholic syndicate, a library, a school and even three movie theatres.
In 1959, she founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce, which continues to be one of the most respected charities of Brazil.
In 1979-1980 Sister Dulce met Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and twice Pope John Paul II. The last meeting with the Pope took place shortly before her death – March 13, 1992.
As part of the beatification process, Sister Dulce’s body was examined and found to be incorruptable. She was proclaimed saint on May 22, 2011, and in 2016 she was chosen as one of the patron saints of World Youth Day in Krakow as a role model.
Text by Aleksey Gotovsky
Cover photo by Daniel Ibanez