Approximately 70,000 Brazilians–including President Dilma Rousseff–turned out last Sunday for the beatification of Sr. Dulce Lopes Pontes (1912-92), who served the poorest of the poor in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
Sr. Dulce (baptized Maria Rita) entered the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God at the age of 18.
One of the inspirations for her vocation was the life of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. “I think I am like the little love of my small heart, that no matter how much love it has, it is little for such a great God,” wrote Sr. Dulce upon her entrance into religious life. “I think that the Child Jesus is pleased with all little acts of love no matter how small they are.”
She founded the Obras Sociais Irma Dulce, or in English, “The Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce,” as the umbrella-organization for her amazing outreaches to the poor and needy. She was absolutely beloved by the Brazilian people, who sometimes called her “the Angel of Bahia.” Toward the end of her life, she was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
The presider at the beatification was Brazilian Cardinal Dom Geraldo Agnelo. Those unable to attend the event were able to watch the nationally televised ceremony from home.
The miracle for her beatification occurred in 2001, when Cláudia Cristiane Santos, now 42, survived an uncontrolled hemorrhage after giving birth. The bleeding continued despite three operations. Doctors lost all hope that she would survive, but when her family sought the intercession of Sr. Dulce, the bleeding stopped immediately.
Th miracle further confirmed Sr. Dulce’s virtuous life, centered on prayer and charity in little things. “Love overcomes all obstacles, all sacrifices,” she used to say.