Monday, July 13, 2009

Feast day of Saint Teresa of the Andes

"Let us love the Divine Little Child who suffers so much
without finding consolation in His creatures.
May He find refuge in our souls, a haven where He can heal in the
midst of the hatred of His enemies and a garden of delights where
He can forget the forgetfulness of His friends."
-- St Teresa of the Andes

"Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes was born in Santiago, Chile, on July 12, 1920. Her secular name was Juanita Fernández Solar. Her father was Miguel Fernández and her mother was Lucía Solar de Fernández. She was baptized at the parish Church of Saint Ann in Santiago on the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is Chile's titular feast. At baptism the little girl was named Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

The Fernández family was a religious family. The young girl was surrounded by evidence of Christian virtues. From the time she was six, her mother and aunt Juana took her to daily Mass. Juanita loved to assist at Mass and was most eager to receive the Eucharist. She made her first Holy Communion at ten. She noted in her Diary: 'It was on that day that I heard the sweet voice of my Jesus for the first time' (D6).

Her parents enrolled their gifted daughter in schools conducted by the Religious of the Sacred Heart so that she would be given a sound academic education, where her character would be formed according to the ideals of the Christian faith and where she would grow in holiness.

When she was eighteen, Juanita entered the Carmel of Los Andes, Chile, and was given the name Sister Teresa of Jesus in honor of the great Carmelite saint of Avila. Overcome with humility by the grace of being called to the religious life, she wrote to a friend, 'What has God seen in us, that He loves us to the point of wanting us to be His friends and brides of His Heart' (L51).

Sister Teresa lived in the Monastery of Los Andes for eleven months, wore the habit of Carmel less than five and then was stricken with typhus. In danger of death, she was permitted to make her religious vows and thus died as a professed Carmelite Sister.

Immediately after her death in 1920, extraordinary things began to happen. People from all walks of life were moved by God to see in this young Chilean girl a model of perfect holiness. Many also found her to be a wonderful friend and intercessor before God. The fame of her holiness grew. As a result, she was beatified on April 3, 1987, in Santiago and solemnly canonized in Rome by the same Pope on March 21, 1993. On that occasion, Pope John Paul II called her 'an eminently contemplative soul' and proposed her as a model for youth. A short time later, the bishops of Chile declared her the patroness of children, especially homeless children or children in juvenile prisons." -- Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes translated by Fr Michael D Griffin, ocd

St Teresa of the Andes, pray for us!

Learn more about St Teresa of the Andes, visit the Shrine's website (Spanish only).

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