Vatican Authorizes Opening of Cause for Canonization for 13-Year-Old Filipina Girl

If the Filipina girl is declared a saint, she will be one of the youngest in history.

The Vatican on March 16, 2024, determined that nothing prevents the opening of the cause for canonization of Niña Ruiz-Abad, a 13-year-old girl who died in 1993 in the Philippines and whose grave has become a place of pilgrimage.
The Vatican on March 16, 2024, determined that nothing prevents the opening of the cause for canonization of Niña Ruiz-Abad, a 13-year-old girl who died in 1993 in the Philippines and whose grave has become a place of pilgrimage. (photo: Credit: Diocese of Laoag/Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons)

The Vatican has determined that nothing prevents the opening of the cause for canonization of Niña Ruiz-Abad, a 13-year-old girl who died in 1993 in the Philippines and whose grave has become a place of pilgrimage.

On March 16, the Vatican news agency Fides reported that the Vatican has granted the “nihil obstat” (“nothing stands in the way”) for the cause of canonization to begin for Ruiz-Abad, who is now considered a “Servant of God,” the first step toward sainthood. If the Filipina girl is declared a saint, she will be one of the youngest in history.

The news was announced with a circular from the bishop of Laoag, Renato Mayugba, that was read in all the churches of the Ilocos Norte region, where Ruiz-Abad is originally from.

In July 2023, the bishops of the Philippines had already expressed their support for the opening of the cause, which will be formally opened on April 7, Divine Mercy Sunday, at St. William Cathedral in Laoag City, with the first session of the diocesan tribunal.

Who was Niña Ruiz-Abad?

Niña Ruiz-Abad was born Oct. 31, 1979, in Quezon City. Her parents were lawyers and her father died when she was only 3 years old.

Ruiz-Abad grew up in Quezon City on Luzon island along with her sister, Mary Anne. She attended school at the Child Study Center of the University of the Philippines and later at the Holy Angels Montessori School, both in Quezon City. 

Her mother, a devotee of divine mercy, moved with her daughters to Sarrat, 300 miles to the north of Quezon City, in April 1988 to work at the Department of Justice.

Ruiz-Abad started high school at Mariano Marcos State University High School in nearby Laoag CIty. She had a strong devotion to the Eucharist and from a very young age, she distributed rosaries, Bibles, prayer books, and holy cards in her neighborhood and at school.

When Father Danny Pajarillaga met Ruiz-Abad in 1993, he immediately noticed her great love for the Eucharist and that she prayed a lot. 

“She was a walking testimony of piety and religion. She was always dressed in white and with a rosary around her neck,” those who knew her recalled.

Ruiz-Abad was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 10 and lived with the disease for three years with great faith and joy. 

“Niña’s life was one of prayer, adoration, and an intimate relationship with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Mayugba said.

On Aug. 16, 1993, she suffered cardiac arrest while she was at school and was immediately taken to the hospital, where she died. She was buried in a public cemetery in Sarrat and her grave is now a pilgrimage site.

“Today, children and young people are inspired by the life of Niña Ruiz-Abad to live a life rooted in prayer. Her story continues to reach the hearts of many people because it is an example of how with God obstacles can be overcome,” the Philippine Bishops’ Conference stated.

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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