Beaterio de la Compañia

Founded by Ignacia de Sto. Espiritu, a mestiza Chinese from Binondo, the beaterio housed the beatas, lay sisters dedicated to prayer and charitable work. Born in 1663, Ignacia was baptized in Binondo on 4 March by Alberto Collares, O.P. She was the daughter of Jusepe Incua and María Jerónima. Her godmother was Catalina Malinang. Although her parents wanted her to marry when she was 21 she sought the advice of the Jesuit Paul Klein (Pablo Clain) who guided in her desire to enter a beaterio. Initially, she had her eyes set on entering the Beaterio de Santo Domingo.

Mother Ignacia took residence in a house across the San Ignacio church to make it easy for her and her companions to go to church for Mass and for other spiritual exercises. This was in 1684. The congregation supported itself by doing manual work and by begging. They were known for helping women make a spiritual retreat following the Ignatian method. They assisted them in preparing for confession and communion and read spiritual works for them in Tagalog.

Mother Ignacia died in 1748 and was buried in the Jesuit church of San Ignacio.

By the 19th century the Beatas had a residence along Calle Santa Lucia. The Beaterio was simple structure of mortar. Its main entrance was through an arched portal, which led to a large hall; the wings to the left were for residences. Architecturally there was nothing very distinctive about the structure-the windows were simple rectangles. The beaterio’s site, formerly occupied by Allied Warehouse (IA warehouse), is now occupied by a reconstruction of the 19th-century beaterio building. Part of the reconstructed replica is used by the spiritual descendants of Mother Ignacia, but the greater part of the building is a historical museum, that celebrates volunteerism. It was built while the DOT secretary was Richard Gordon.

Rome recognized the Beatas de la Compañia as a religious congregation in 1948. The primitive rule of life from Mother Ignacia’s time became the basis for their constitution. The congregation was renamed Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM). The RVM motherhouse is along N. Domingo St., in San Juan. The RVM sisters run schools and have houses in the United States and Papua New Guinea.

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