María Clara, whose full name is María Clara de los Santos, is the mestiza heroine in Noli Me Tangere, a novel by José Rizal, the national hero of the Republic of the Philippines. Maria Clara is the childhood sweetheart and fiancée of Noli Me Tangere's hero, Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, the son of Don Rafael Ibarra. Although raised as Santiago "Kapitan Tiyago" de los Santos’s daughter, Maria Clara is the illegitimate offspring of Father Dámaso, a Spanish friar, and Doña Pía Alba. Doña Alba is the wife of Kapitan Tiyago, who are both native Filipinos.
Father Damaso (also known as Padre Damaso) is known to Maria Clara as a godfather. Maria Clara never met her mother because Doña Alba died during the delivery of her daughter. She grew under the guidance and supervision of Tía Isabél, Kapitan Tiyago's cousin. While her boyfriend Crisostomo Ibarra was travelling in Europe, Kapitan Tiyago sent her to the Beaterio de Santa Clara, a convent where she developed femininity under religion. Later in the novel, Maria Clara discovers the truth that Father Damaso is her biological father.
In the novel, Maria Clara is regarded as the most beautiful and widely celebrated lady in the town of San Diego. Maria Clara, being religious, the epitome of virtue, “demure and self-effacing” and endowed with beauty, grace, and charm, was promoted by Rizal as the “ideal image” of a Filipino woman who deserves to be placed on the “pedestal of male honor”. In Chapter 5 of Noli Me Tangere, Maria Clara and her traits were further described by Rizal as an “Oriental decoration” with “downcast” eyes and a “pure soul”.
The stamp above of Maria Clara was issued on 1952.