Saint Dulce of the Poor

      Canonization Date to be Announced 


Sister Dulce (1914-1992) was a member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SMIC). She was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil where she was known as the Good Angel of Bahia.

Her baptismal name was Maria Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes. Daughter of Augusto Lopes Pontes, dentist and professor at the Federal University of Bahia and of Dulce Maria de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes. From childhood Sister Dulce wanted to follow Jesus Christ by being a consecrated Religious. On February 8 1932, she became a primary school teacher and in the following year entered the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God in São Cristóvão, Sergipe, Brasil.

In 1934, she professed her religious vows becoming a Sister and receiving the name of Sister Dulce, in honor of her mother. Returning to Salvador, as a Sister, her first mission was to teach in a school of the religious congregation.

In 1936, at 22 years of age, Sister Dulce founded the St. Francis Workers’ Union together with Friar Hildebrando Kruthaup. Another creation of Sr. Dulce was St. Anthony School for workers and their families. Also important was her participation in creating a hostel for the sick, located in the convent of St. Anthony’s old chicken coup which later was transformed into a hospital , today, the Social Works of Sr. Dulce”.

Sr. Dulce dedicated her life to the service of the poorest. She would gather the sick she met in the streets and tended to their wounds. She had a great passion for Jesus Christ and because of this saw Him in the image of those needy persons. Her great merit was to listen and to attend the calls of God. If, it was necessary for her to disobey whatever rule or norm that was not favorable to attending such persons who needed to be welcomed, cared for and compassion. She is considered by many as an illumined soul which God sent to the earth to show his love to his creatures. Sr. Dulce had a fragile health but had a vibrant soul very strengthened in the Christian faith. She knew whom she served and was clear about the mission she received, for this reason she fulfilled it with dedication, self- giving and love.

On May 14th, 2019, the Holy See informed us that the Holy Father, Pope Francis recognized one more miracle attributed to the intercession of Sr. Dulce of the poor, beatified in May of 2011 in Brazil. The miracle took place with a blind person who asked the help of Sr. Dulce and was given sight. For this, Sr. Dulce will be proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church. The date has not been communicated as yet, but the decree of canonization was signed by Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 13th, 2019.
Sister Dulce will be the first saint born in Brazil, the country with the most number of catholics in the world.
We are GRATEFUL to God for the legacy of love to the poor, left us by our founders, Bishop Amandus and Mother Immaculata. This legacy which Sr. Dulce, faithful to the call of God, lived it day to day. Our SMIC Religious family is grateful to God for all that He has realized to humanity through the Social Works of Sr.Dulce!
In praise to Christ, We rejoice always in the Lord!

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The ” Angel of Bahia”, Sister Dulce Pontes, SMIC



                An Angel to the Poor


Born in Salvador, Bahia, in 1941, the second daughter of Augusto Lopes Pontes and Dulce Maria de Souza, as Maria Rita de Souza Lopes Pontes, she entered religious life when she was 18 years old. When she was thirteen years old, her aunt took her on a trip to the poor area of the city. The sight of misery and poverty made a deep impression on the young girl, who came from an upper middle class background.

Sister Dulce was a Brazilian Catholic nun who founded the Obras Sociais Irmã Dulce, or the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce, as it is known in English. Her work with the poor population in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, has made her a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

When Maria Rita (Sr. Dulce) was 18 years old she began to care for the homeless and beggars on her neighborhood, giving them free haircuts and treating wounds.In 1949, she started caring for the poorest of the poor.

Determined to house sick people who came to her for help, Sister Dulce started to shelter them in abandoned houses, in 1939, in Salvador’s ‘Ilha dos Ratos’ (rats’ island) district. Then, she would go in search of food, medicine and medical care. Later, when she and her patients were evicted from the neighborhood, she started housing them in an old fish market, but City Hall denied her the use of the space and told her to leave.

Facing a big problem and already taking care of over 70 people, she turned to the Mother Superior of her convent and asked her permission to use the its chickenyard as an improvised hostel. She, reluctantly, agreed, as long as Sister Dulce could take care of the chicken (which she did, by feeding them to her patients).

Today, more than 3,000 people arrive every day at this same site (where the Santo Antônio Hospital now stands) to receive free medical treatment. Sister Dulce also established CESA, a school for the poor in Simões Filho, one of the most impoverished cities in the Metropolitan Region of Salvador and in the State of Bahia.

She was known for carrying street children and beggars to the hospital herself when she found them on the streets even though for the last 30 years of her life, her lungs were highly impaired and she had only 30% breathing capacity.

After being hospitalized for 16 months due to a worsening of her respiratory problems, Sister Dulce died at the age of 77, in Santo Antonio’s Convent, and she was buried at the Basilica of Our Lady of Conception. On 26 May 2000, her body was transferred to the Chapel of Santo Antônio Convent.

At the time of her death in 1992, Sister Dulce had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, she had received two personal audiences with Pope John Paul II, and she had, almost single-handedly, created one of the largest and most respected philanthropic organizations in Brazil.

Her work with the poor population in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, has made her a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church. In 2003, she was named Servant of God by Pope John Paul II. She is considered the most influential religious person in Brazil, during the 20th century.

New movie  coming out in November  in Portuguese about the life of Sr. Dulce

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