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Blessed Candlemas of San José

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Mother Candlemas of San José
Born August 11, 1863
Died January 31, 1940
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified April 27, 2008, Central University of Caracas, Venezuela by Pope Benedict XVI
Feast February 1

Mother Candlemas of San José (Susana Paz Castillo) was born in Altagracia de Orituco, State of Guárico, Venezuela, on August 11, 1863; daughter of Francisco de Paula Paz Castillo ane María del Rosario Ramírez.

Her father was an honest, deeply Christian man with a great heart. He enjoyed the esteem of his neighbors; he knew natural medicine which he used to help many people who asked for his services.

Her mother was a pious woman, a hard and honest worker. She and Don Francisco offered their children the best education the circumstances of their lives allowed. She was a true Christian, teaching by her example and words solidarity and responsibility in the practices of Christian faith and values. She learned to read, to write and to embroider. Her father died on November 23, 1870, when Susana was 7 years old.

Her mother died on December 24, 1887 when Susana was 24 years old. She assumed the responsibilities of diligent householder; while practicing charity with invalids who gathered at a house attached to the parochial church. In 1903 with the arrival of Father Sixto Soda Diaz and with the advice of some doctors of the locality a hospital was built. Susana become director of the hospital.

On September 13, 1906, with the authorization of the diocesan Bishop, Susana took on the habit of the Hermanitas of the Poor men of Altagracia de Orituco and the name, Candlemas of San José.

On December 31, 1910, the Congregation, Hermanitas of the Poor men of Altagracia de Orituco was officially established with the profession of the first six brothers, at the hands of Monsignor Felipe Neri Sendrea, who confirmed Mother Candlemas as General Superior of the Congregation. In December 1916 she professed her perpetual vows.

Two things drew attention to her powerfully: her deep humility and her inexhaustible charity. She had the great sensitivity for other people's misfortune. Another characteristic of hers was her joy. Her great loves were the Crucified Jesus and the Most Holy Virgin and Mother of God. She traveled widely in search of resources for the support of her works; and founding new Communities that responded to the needs of the moment.

Many difficulties confronted the Congregation in its early days. Providentially, on July 12, 1922, the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance arrived in Porlamar, on the Island of Margarita and Bishop Sosa gave them the parish of Saint Nicholas of Bari. Mother Candelaria never suspected the great gift that the Carmelite presence would be to her and to the difficult and dangerous work her Congregation was involved in. The Congregation was aggregated to the Order on March 25, 1925.

She governed the Congregation for 35 years from its foundation to the General Chapter of 1937.

The last years of Mother Candlemas were marked by a painful disease, however, after leaving the position of General Superior, she continued serving the Congregation as Mistress of Novices.

At dawn on January 31, 1940, after vomiting blood, she pronounced the name of Jesus three times, she died. Today the congregation she founded is known as the Hermanas Carmelitas de Madre Candelaria. She was beatified on April 27, 2008 in Central University of Caracas, Venezuela by Pope Benedict XVI

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