Manila (AsiaNews) – On Sunday June 3rd in St Peter’s square, the Pope will canonize Maria Eugénie of Jesus, foundress of the Religious of the Assumption. During the same ceremony he will also declare Giorgio Preca, Simone da Lipnica e p. and Charles of St. Andrew saints.
Born in 1817 in Metz Anna Eugenia Milleret belonged to a non-believing family, followers of Voltaire. She was provided with a liberal anti-clerical education far from Church parameters. Orphan at the age of 15 the future saint converted at 19 thanks to the help of Fr. Combalot, whom she chose as her confessor. At 22, Marie Anne-Eugénie became foundress of the Religious of the Assumption, dedicated to consecrate their whole life and strength to extending the Kingdom of Christ in themselves and in the world.
She died on March 10 1898, and was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975. Today, the Religious of the Assumption are present in 35 countries, counting 1,300 sisters of over 40 nationalities. Among those present next Sunday in St Peters will be Risa Bondoc, the 12 year old Philippine she saved from certain death.
By all the laws of medicine she should have been blind, deaf, dumb, crippled, and retarded. According to doctors she should be dead. Yet through the intercession of Blessed Marie Eugénie, whose sisters have a school in Manila, she is a living miracle.
When this child was still in the womb of her mother, arrangements were made that she would be adopted by a French couple. But when she was born, the complicated conditions of the government for adoption had not yet been satisfied. So the baby was left, for the time being, with a Filipino couple – Ditos and Carmen Bondoc. Carmen was an alumna of Assumption Convent. Ditos was an Alumnus of the Ateneo de Manila University run by the Jesuits.
Almost immediately the new parents notice that something is amiss: when Risa was brought out to play, or for walks in her pram, she would remain stationary, neither moving nor turning. Her eyes seem to have great difficulty focusing. So they took her to a paediatrician. In his first examination of the child, he paled. He told Carmen and Ditos, that their daughter will never walk or talk. She will never see, or hear. She will be retarded. And she will not live longer than 18 months, because the two lobes of her brain are not united. Every Filipino doctor who looked at the baby confirmed this.
Carmen and Ditos took Risa to see specialists in The United States, in Houston and Boston; the answers remain the same. But Carmen and Ditos would not give up. They brought her to Paris and placed their trust in their faith. Carmen met with the General of the Religious of the Assumption, and her entire Council. They placed the baby on the tomb of Mother Eugenie, and prayed with all their hearts that she would intercede for her with the Virgin Mary, with Christ Our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, with God the Father.
Today, that little girl is one of the brightest students in the Grade School of Assumption College in San Lorenzo, Manila. She is very affectionate. She loves everyone, and everyone loves her. The lobes of her brain are still seperated.