Argentine Nun Remembered for Her Smile Considered for Sainthood

Sister Cecilia María of the Holy Face, a Carmelite nun from the province of Neuquén, died from cancer in 2016 at the age of 43.

Sister Cecilia María of the Holy Face
Sister Cecilia María of the Holy Face (photo: Dicastery for the Causes of Saints/General Curia of the Discalced Carmelites)

Archbishop Sergio Fenoy of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz in Argentina signed the edict that begins the process prior to the opening of the cause of canonization of Sister Cecilia María of the Holy Face, a Carmelite nun from the province of Neuquén who died from cancer in 2016 at the age of 43.

Dated Feb. 14, the edict bears the signature of the archbishop of Santa Fe because the nun lived in the Carmelite monastery located in the archdiocese from 1997 to 2016, the year of her death.

Her testimony of “love and trust in Jesus Christ, even in the midst of the hardest trials, has awakened in many hearts the desire for a greater commitment to Christian life,” the edict states.

Thus “having grown, over the years, her reputation for holiness and for signs,” the beginning of the preliminary process to open her cause for canonization was approved after the postulator, Friar Marco Chiesa, formally requested it. 

The document calls on the faithful to communicate all information from which in some way elements favorable or contrary to the reputation of sanctity of Sister Cecilia María de la Santa Faz can be deduced by emailing [email protected] or by postal mail to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz (Av. Gral. López 2720, Santa Fe, Argentina).

As part of the process, the archdiocese requests that anyone who has any writings by Sister Cecilia to send them in as soon as possible.

The edict will be published for three months in the Santa Fe cathedral, the St. Joseph and St. Teresa Carmelite monastery, and the archdiocesan basilicas and shrines. It will also be published in the official media of the archdiocese as well as in any place with a connection to Sister Cecilia.

Cecilia María Sánchez Sorondo was born on Dec. 5, 1973, in San Martín de los Andes in Neuquén province, Argentina. At the age of 24 she entered the Discalced Carmelites monastery in the city of Santa Fe, receiving the name Cecilia María of the Holy Face.

She was outgoing, spontaneous, happy, and embodied in her life friendship with Christ and love for others. She dedicated herself to prayer and the contemplative life, played the violin, and was known for her sweetness and permanent smile.

She was diagnosed with tongue cancer, and her illness worsened due to lung metastasis, so she had to be hospitalized. But she didn’t stop praying and offering the sufferings she endured, certain that her encounter with God was coming soon.

Her last wish, which she wrote on a piece of paper, was: “I was thinking about what I wanted my funeral to be like. First a little intense prayer, and then a big party for everyone. Don’t forget to pray but don’t forget to celebrate either!”

Her testimony and the photos of her last days went around the world, especially because she kept her characteristic smile until the moment of her death, which occurred in Buenos Aires on June 23, 2016.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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