Spreading the Love

By on in

A young girl, baptized Juana Enriqueta Josefina de los Sagrados Corazones Fernández y Solar, was born in Santiago Chile on July 13, 1900.  She grew up in a well-off household, surrounded by her parents, siblings, and extended family; they were known as a faithful Catholic family, who lived their lives faithfully and consistently.

Educated by French nuns of the Sacred Heart, Juanita (as she was called by all who knew her), grew strong in her faith.  At the age of fourteen, inspired by the autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, she felt that God was calling her to consecrate herself to him as a religious, specifically as a Discalced Carmelite Nun.  Throughout the years, she continued to feel God’s call.  And, on May 7, 1919, her desires were realized; she entered the small monastery of the Holy Spirit in Los Andes, about 90 kilometers from Santiago.  On October 14 of the same year, she was clothed with the Carmelite habit and began her novitiate, now known as Teresa of Jesus.

But, Teresa had a secret.  Long before this, God had revealed to her that she would die young.  Though this would have been a scary, daunting revelation for many, she lived all her days in joy, faith, and peacefulness.  She firmly believed that her mission to spread the love and Word of God would continue on into eternity.

She suffered greatly, both physically and mentally, when she was struck by a sudden, violent attack of typhus.  When it was clear that she did not have long to live, she was given the last sacraments.  Though six months away from completing her novitiate, she was allowed to make her religious profession.  She died on April 12, 1920, 3 months short of her twentieth birthday, and as a Discalced Carmelite novice.

Teresa of Jesus was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago, Chile on April 3, 1987; she was canonized on March 21, 1993.  She is the first Chilean and the first Discalced Carmelite nun outside of Europe to be declared a saint.  Her remains are venerated in the Sanctuary of Auco-Rinconada of Los Andes by thousands of pilgrims.  They flock there to seek her guidance and help in finding a way to God.

Though it seems that nineteen years in this life is not enough time, St. Teresa has given us all an example of holiness in everyday occurrences.  No matter what God gave her, she never wavered in her love and faithfulness towards him.  She can be an example for all of us that the trials in life should never steal away our faith and our joy.