Internationally recognized as the Joan of Arc of Asia, our late president Cory C. Aquino was in many respects very similar to St. Joan of Arc, the heroine and savior of France.
Like The Maid, as St. Joan was called during her time, Cory was the most unlikely savior of her country. Like The Maid, Cory took her marching orders from God. Like The Maid, Cory electrified her nation into patriotic passion and vanquished the tyrants of the land.
Like The Maid, Cory irritated a lot of people around her because she was unwavering in following the light she felt God gave her. For this Cory faced several violent attempts to oust her from the presidency. Like The Maid, Cory was the subject of whispered intrigues from the very ranks of the side she championed. Cory frustrated the crooks and power brokers by her principled style of governance.
Unlike The Maid, Cory was a more likeable person and was easier to get along with. The Maid was known to be abrasive and rash at times. The Maid’s rashness led to her capture by the English.
Where Cory was the darling of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, priests and nuns alike — The Maid was controversial. Some doubted if The Maid truly received marching orders from God. In fact, during the time of The Maid, many were tortured and burned at the stake for claiming to have talked with God. The Bishop of Beauvais became the principal player in the The Maid’s burning at the stake for witchcraft.
The Maid died on May 30, 1431. Her sainthood was only finally confirmed on April 11, 1909 during the reign of Pope Pius X. Up to the time of the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, The Maid was still regarded in England as a witch.
Unlike The Maid who advocated violent means in order to liberate France — Cory would only accede to non-violent political activism. Cory discouraged armed struggle and preferred to entrust her fate and that of her people to the love and justice of God.
Unlike The Maid who never experienced the final victory that only came after her death, God was kinder to Cory who experienced the Miracle of EDSA and sat as the anointed leader of her people.
While it is true that The Maid’s burning at the stake was deemed an act of martyrdom — perhaps one of the biggest contributors for her earning sainthood — that does not mean though that a person cannot become a saint for not undergoing martyrdom. Martyrdom is one way to earn sainthood but it is definitely not the only way.
Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Chiara Lubich did not die as martyrs as all of them quietly died in their respective beds. But who will doubt that they are headed for canonization.
Indeed, our beloved Cory could well be more qualified than St. Joan of Arc to be a saint. Filipinos, especially members of Cory’s family, should not be the first to dampen the possibility. Cory deserves due investigation and process by the Vatican to check if she had indeed qualified to be declared a saint.
If we are to compare Cory with St. Lorenzo Ruiz, there may be more favorable points working for Cory in terms of qualifying for sainthood. Not to belittle the martyrdom of St. Lorenzo Ruiz — but other than his evangelization work in Japan and martyrdom, Cory appears to have done much more. In other words, scrutinize the roster of saints and you will find that our Cory may have done more good and godly deeds than some of them.
For the needs of the Roman Catholic Church, Cory C. Aquino was just about the closest (if not the perfect specimen) that the world of politics will produce that could qualify to be a saint. More so if one looks at it from the perspective of those who have occupied the top post in government.
Just what are the chances these days that the Roman Catholic Church will find a saint among the top world leaders — whether a president, prime minister or a dictator? The chances are none and nil. We know that to get to the top government position, one has to make so many compromises — and in many of these, the unpalatable and sinful are transacted.
What Filipinos should do now is to collate the personal testimonies of those who found inspiration in Cory, whether through contact with her or simply by her example, which bolstered their faith and brought them closer to God. Considering the advantages now of the Information Age which other saints like St. Joan of Arc never had — our Cory’s sainthood can happen much faster than that of saints from earlier centuries.
In recent years, especially during the reign of Pope John Paul II, there have been many good and godly souls from the 20th century who were confirmed as saints. Born on January 9, 1902, died on June 26, 1975 — Josemaria Escriva De Balaguer was confirmed a saint on October 6, 2002. Padre Pio was another case of fast tracked sainthood.