13-Year-Old Filipina Who Loved the Eucharist Is Officially on Path to Sainthood

Canonization cause opens for young ‘model of piety and fortitude.’

Exposition of the official portrait of Servant of God Niña Ruiz Abad on April 7.
Exposition of the official portrait of Servant of God Niña Ruiz Abad on April 7. (photo: Courtesy of the Cenacle of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus)

LAOAG CITY, Philippines — On April 7, the cause for canonization of 13-year old Filipina Niña Ruiz Abad was officially opened at the Cathedral of St. William the Hermit in Laoag City, Philippines, coinciding with Divine Mercy Sunday.

The event marks the first step of a lengthy process of making Ruiz Abad one of the youngest saints in history. 

Bishop Renato Mayugba of Laoag City headed the tribunal to hear witnesses testify to the life and holiness of the Servant of God, who has been described as “an inspiration of piety, mercy, evangelization and fortitude to others.”

“We are starting our investigation on the life of Niña, to discern if indeed God has blessed us with a Servant of God who can be elevated to sainthood. … All holiness is, in fact, a work of God. God is the author of holiness, because all holiness is grace. Sanctity is ultimately the work of grace, the fruit of Divine Mercy,” said the bishop.

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Opening session of the beatification and canonization process of Servant of God Niña Ruiz Abad takes place at St. William the Hermit Cathedral in Laoag City, Philippines, on April 7.(Photo: Courtesy of the Cenacle of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus)

A video reenactment of Ruiz Abad’s life was shown at the beginning of the session, offering attendees a short glimpse of the teen’s life of deep piety and love for God from a very early age. She was shown as a young child to be always engrossed in praying before the Blessed Sacrament, with her arms extended toward God, and fond of distributing prayer cards and religious images, especially of the Santo Niño (the Child Jesus in Filipino), to her teachers and schoolmates. The video showed an unfazed girl who, when faced with the diagnosis of incurable heart disease, told her aggrieved mother, “Don’t worry, Mommy; it’s okay — God will heal me!”

Father Dennis Ruíz, postulator of the cause, emphasized the importance of her example, especially for the youth of today, much like Blessed Carlo Acutis

“Many of the youth nowadays are preoccupied by technology, fashion, fun, pleasure and desire for worldly material things, which sometimes draw their attention away from healthy relationships, especially [relationships] to God. With the presence of dysfunctional families and family disintegration in today’s society, children are usually the most affected, which consequently makes them turn for solace and consolation to their environment. But having a good model of piety and fortitude for the youth, they can be saved from utter destruction. Knowing Niña’s character and traits and her strong faith toward God will serve as a guide to the youth,” he said.

The official portrait of the Servant of God by Filipino painter Ariel Caratao was presented to the public during the session. 

Dressed in traditional Filipino attire, the Divine Mercy Children’s Choir, composed of children from the Little Sparks of the Divine Mercy & Immaculate Heart Filipino community, performed four songs for the congregation: Children’s Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, The Unity Prayer, and Jesus, I Trust in You, followed by the singing of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

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The Divine Mercy Children’s Choir sings the Divine Mercy Chaplet during the opening session of the cause of Servant of God Niña Ruiz Abad. (Photo: Courtesy of the Cenacle of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus)

Niña’s mother, Corazon Abad, and only sister, Mary Ann Abad, and other relatives were present at the event, as well as officers and members of the God First Association — an association named after Niña’s renowned slogan “God First” and headed by Eliza Samson, Niña’s third-grade teacher. A large number of laypeople, priests, sisters and seminarians were also present during the event, filling the cathedral. 

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Niña’s mother (center) and sister (left), as well as other relatives, were present during the opening session.(Photo: Courtesy of the Cenacle of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus)

Right after the opening session, the tribunal of the Diocese of Laoag and the attendees of the session visited the Servant of God’s tomb in the Church of St. Monica, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

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The tomb of Niña Ruiz Abad at St. Monica parish, Ilocos Norte, Philippines (Photo: Courtesy of Father Dennis Ruíz)

The petition for Ruiz Abad’s beatification and canonization is part of the Church's wider effort to recognize modern-day saints, models for Catholics in the 21st century. The Catholic Church seeks to recognize saints who practiced their faith in the ordinariness of modern life.

As Bishop Mayugba encouraged, “May her life, though short, inspire all of us to put God first in our lives.” 

Valerie Joy Escalona writes from the Philippines.