Note: Some have asked me why I did not count Ven. Isabel Larranaga Ramirez (1836 - 1899) as the "first" Filipino venerable. Here is my reason: although Ven. Isabel Larranaga Ramirez was born in Manila in 1836 (to a Spanish father and a Peruvian mother), she left the Philippines with her mother shortly after her father died when she was only 2 years old. She never returned.
On December 20, 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, authorized the Congregation for Causes of Saints to recognize miracles attributed to a group of Beati, two individual Beati and five Venerables; the martyrdom of thirty-five Servants of God; and the heroic virtues of nine individuals (who thereby gained the title "Venerable").
Among the nine new Venerables, most media attention has gone to Pope Paul VI. Few -- even among Filipinos -- have paid attention to the fact that one of the new Venerables is a Spanish-born nun who spent most of her religious life in the Philippines, and who co-founded what is now a Filipina religious congregation: Joaquina Mercedes Barceló y Pagés, known in religious life as Mother Consuelo, who was the co-foundress (along with her blood sister, Mother Rita) of the Philippine-based (and predominantly Filipina) Congregation of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation.
Born in Barcelona in 1857, she died in Manila in 1940. Although she was born in Spain and had purely Spanish blood, the fact that her life in religion and spiritual heritage unfolded mostly in the Philippines and among Filipinos, makes her truly "one of us" as well.
Ven. Consuelo Barcelo y Pages is the second person from the Catholic Church in the Philippines to receive the title "Venerable". The first was Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, who was recognized as Venerable on July 6, 2007. The two Filipino saints (SS. Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod) were martyrs rather than confessors and so did not have to have to be declared "Venerable" prior to beatification.
The following biography of the new Venerable is now in Archive.Org (LINK):
Mother Consuelo Barcelo Y Pages, OSA
Joaquina Mercedes Barceló y Pagés was born in Sarriá, Barcelona on July 24, 1857. She was the youngest of the five children of Salvador Barceló and Maria Pagés. In early 1883, she entered the “Beaterio de Mantelatas de San Agustin” in Barcelona, Spain. As a Postulant, she was allowed to join the second group of Spanish Sisters for the Mandaluyong Orphanage (Asilo de Mandaloya). She arrived in Manila on October 6, 1883. She was thus encouraged because her sister Mother Rita had already joined the first group of four (4) Sisters on April 6, 1883. They responded to the invitation of the Spanish Augustinians to take care of children orphaned by cholera epidemic in 1882.
On Dec. 26, 1884, Joaquina Barceló made her profession of vows and was given the name Sor Consuelo. As of 1888, only Mother Rita and Mother Consuelo were left to care for the orphans because the other Spanish Sisters had returned to Barcelona, Spain due to poor health. The Philippine Revolution of 1896 and the Spanish-American War of 1898 led to the separation of Mother Rita and Mother Consuelo from their Filipino Sisters. They were bound by obedience to return to Spain on March 13, 1899 and were both recommended for readmission to the Beaterio in Barcelona by the Augustinian Vicar Provincial in the Philippines.
Upon petition of the Filipino Sisters and also of their Spiritual Director, Fr. Bernabe Jimenez, Sor Consuelo sought permission from her Superiors to return to the Philippines for she was then the Superior of the Beaterio de Barcelona. She returned to Manila on July 1904. It was in the First General Chapter in 1915 that she was elected Superior General and in every succeeding General Chapter elections every six years for four terms.
The small congregation continued to grow and expand its mission in several provinces. Mo. Consuelo’s 25 years of firm and gentle leadership manifested her outstanding virtues: Love of God / Love of Neighbor, Faith, Hope, Human Justice, Humility, Poverty, Prudence, Obedience, Fortitude. She had a special affection for the poor, the sick, the miserable and the unfortunate. She was attentive to everyone in their spiritual and temporal needs. She was always uncomplaining and mortified even in her last days of pain and suffering. Mother Consuelo quietly celebrated her 83rd birthday on July 24, 1940. She died on August 4, 1940, having been called home by God to her eternal rest and reward for having served Him faithfully for 56 years in the religious life.
The Diocese of Palo was erected on November 28, 1937 and raised to an Archdiocese on November 15, 1982. As such, November 2012 marked the 75th anniversary of its founding and the 30th anniversary of its raising to Archdiocesan rank. In belated recognition of these two anniversaries I'm embedding the following videos here in this blog.