Meet Niña Ruiz-Abad: a New Filipino Saint?

The Church in the Philippines is awaiting the opening of the cause for the canonization of Niña Ruiz-Abad, a young girl who died at the age of 13 in 1993.

Photo: CBCP

Newsroom (14/09/2023 20:24, Gaudium Press) On August 16, the Diocese of Laoag issued a notice inviting people to give testimony to pursue the cause of canonization of Niña Ruiz-Abad, who was born in that city and died at the age of 13 in 1993, of heart disease, near Manila.

According to Bishop Mayugba of Laoag, his diocese has already received testimonies from relatives, classmates, parish priests, and teachers. In 2019, the Vatican also declared “Servant of God” the young Filipino Darwin Ramos, who died at the age of 17 on the outskirts of Manila in 2012.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reported that a Filipino Catholic movement, the God First Association, recently published a petition requesting the opening of the cause for canonization of a 13-year-old Filipino girl who died three decades ago of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an incurable heart disease.

According to CBCP News, in response to this request, the Diocese of Laoag, in the north of the Philippines, published a notice calling on people to give testimonies to advance the process of canonization of the young girl, recognized for her piety and Marian devotion. Filipino Catholics applauded the initiative.
Niña Ruiz-Abad spent half her life in Laoag before she died in 1993, where she was buried. The bishop of Laoag, Monsignor Renato Mayugba, author of the notice published on August 16, said “I became more interested in Niña’s life when I heard testimonies of her holiness, not only from her relatives and friends, but also from her former parish priests. I also read a book about her entitled: God First.

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Bishop Mayugba pointed out that if she is canonized, it will be the first time that the South Asian country, which has a Catholic majority, has a contemporary saint who is not a member of a religious congregation.
Holiness is a call for everyone

“When you think of holiness, you think it’s only for priests, bishops, or religious. But no, Niña taught us that holiness is a call for everyone, especially young people. We are called to be saints,” stressed the Bishop of Laoag.

The canonization process normally begins in the place where the candidate died, but Bishop Mayugba asked the Diocese of Novaliches, in Quezon City (Manila), for permission to organize the investigation. Niña Abade died in Quezon City. Local Catholics, as well as her former teachers and classmates, are giving their testimonies.

“I still remember that when I was in elementary school here in Laoag, Niña would always say, ‘God first’. She always prayed before every test. Before everything she did, she always started with a prayer,” says teacher Eliza Sansão. “Niña would hand out novenas and religious prayer cards to her teachers and classmates, as well as rosaries and stickers with verses from the Gospel… proof of her deep devotion to God and the Virgin Mary.”

She was diagnosed with heart disease at the age of 10. “We all knew she had an illness, but she never showed it. She lived a life of prayer and peace,” said Belen Sulit, her teacher. “I was her teacher, and she got excellent marks in my exams. She was well-liked by everyone, especially her classmates. She was intelligent but very unassuming.”
Some of her classmates also commented on how she encouraged them to pray in the chapel and go to Mass. “She always reminded us to pray before class, even before playing, God first,” said Bianca Manlapaz, a former classmate. “If she wasn’t in class or playing, she was in the chapel. She wore a rosary around her neck. She wasn’t ashamed for people to see it. It was a testimony to her relationship with Our Lady.”

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Compiled by Dominic Joseph

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