St. Cándida Ma. de Jesus, whose name was Juana Josefa Cipitria y Barriola, was born in Andoain (Guipúzcoa), Spain on May 31, 1845 to a poor and humble family. While still young, she left her land to go to work in Castile in order to help the family financially. Endowed with a great sensibility toward the most needy, the conditions of those moved her with compassion. Thus, even with the risk of being left without work, she would say, “where there is no place for the poor, there is no place for me.”
Her desire to do what God wants is the only moving force in her life. On April 2, 1869, in the church of “The Rosarillo” in Valladolid, before the altar of the Sacred Family, she asks the Lord once more to make His will clear to her, and God with greater clarity expresses His desire: “To found a Congregation with the name of Daughters of Jesus, dedicated to the salvation of souls, by means of education and instruction of children and youth.” Her spirituality was based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, whose son, Fr. Miguel San Jose Herranz, S.J., tutored St. Candida not only in spirituality but also in her basic education.
It will be in Salamanca, on December 8, 1871, when, with five other women, her adventure begins, with nothing more than the trust that comes from the knowledge that what one undertakes is “what God wants”. In this way and with the name of Cándida María de Jesus, this woman of little learning and hardly any material means founds the Congregation of Daughters of Jesus in one of the major university cities in the 19th century.The exclusion of women and of the economically weak classes from education moves Mother Cándida to break this path. And very soon what began in Salamanca extends through the whole Spanish geography. Later, on October 3, 1911, the first Daughters of Jesus leave for Brazil, making her dream a reality: “To the farthest ends of the earth I would go in search of souls.”
On August 9, 1912, Mother Cándida died in Salamanca, the simple and courageous woman who made of her life a constant surrender to God’s will. The Church beatified her on May 12, 1996, and in July of 2009 Pope Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of the decree of the authenticity of the miracle attributed to her intercession. Pope Benedict XVI canonized her in Rome on the 17th of October together with six other saints.