Sainthood candidate a ‘model of Christian living,’ says archbishop

April 17, 2024 - 10:04 AM
Nina Ruiz Abad
The opening session of the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification and canonization of Servant of God, Niña Ruiz Abad, at St. William the Hermit Cathedral in Laoag City on April 7, 2024. (Screenshot from St. William Cathedral video via CBCP News)

A northern Philippine diocese has officially opened the process that could lead to sainthood for Niña Ruiz Abad, a 13-year-old girl regarded to have “lived a prayerful life full of reverence”.

The cause of Abad was formally set in motion by the Diocese of Laoag, where she is buried, in a solemn ceremony held at the Cathedral of St. William on April 7, Divine Mercy Sunday.

“We are starting our investigation on the life of Niña to examine if indeed we can say that God deigned to bless her with sanctity,” said Bishop Renato Mayugba of Laoag during the opening session.

In the diocesan phase, the candidate is conferred the title “Servant of God,” as is the case of Abad. This phase includes compiling her writings and gathering testimonies about her life and holiness, among others.

The cause of sainthood is a long and rigorous process that takes many years.

When she will be beatified or canonized “is all in God’s hands,” said Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia in his homily at the opening of the Cause.

But one thing is certain, he said. Abad “is now being given to us as a model of Christian living”.

“She chose her own path of holiness and she was faithful to it,” Peralta said.

“In the meantime, we continue asking for her intercession. In the meantime, we continue promoting her cause because the day will come, and only God knows, when she will be presented to us as Saint Niña Ruiz-Abad,” he added.

Abad was born in Quezon City but later moved to her mother’s hometown in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

At 10 years old and in Grade 4, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an incurable condition that restricts blood flow from the heart.

Growing up, she displayed behaviors that were unusual for her age.

Her autobiography stated she always wore the rosary around her neck, revered the Holy Trinity, and had strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist, and often visited the Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Laoag before and after going to school.

Abad was also known for her motto “God first,” which “became a byword of everyone in school”.

In church, she was often seen kneeling with raised hands, her eyes closed and “totally engrossed in deep prayer and conversation with God”.

She was also considered as a model of charity, sharing what she had, lending a listening ear to all, and showing kindness to everyone.

“Niña has chosen the path of goodness and holiness and she is our model,” Peralta also said.

Due to her mother’s job, they returned to Quezon City, where she passed away after suffering a heart attack while at school on August 16, 1993.

The diocesan inquiry documentation will be sent to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes for review. If she’s deemed to have led a heroic life of Christian virtues, the Church bestows upon her the title “venerable.”

The next steps are beatification and canonization. Generally, two miracles attributed to the candidate’s intercession are required for sainthood — one for beatification and another for canonization.

Abad is the second from the Northern Luzon region to be considered a candidate for sainthood, following the Servant of God, Bishop Alfredo Verzosa.

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