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Teresa of Los Andes

(1900—1920)


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St Teresa of Ávila (1515—1582) Spanish Carmelite nun and mystic

Thérèse de Lisieux (1873—1897) French Carmelite nun

 

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Carmelite nun (1900–20).

Born at Santiago and called Juanita in childhood, she is also known by the names of her parents Fernandez and Solar: she has emerged as one of South America's most popular saints. Although pious when young, she also had her fair share of impatience and bad temper. She received Holy Communion every day and in 1914 experienced a locution in which Christ seemed to tell her to accept her pain (of appendicitis) in memory of his sufferings. At the age of fifteen she made a private vow of celibacy, taught catechism and helped poor children, thought of joining the Sacred Heart Sisters but decided to become a Carmelite after reading the Lives of Theresa of Avila and of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. So, at the age of nineteen, she joined the Carmel in Los Andes (Chile) in spite of it being poor, lacking electric light, and with rudimentary sanitation.

She now devoted her life to love, suffering, prayer, and service. She dedicated herself as a ‘victim’ for sanctifying priests and sinners and wrote: ‘I wish to be holy, therefore I will give myself to love…whoever loves has no will except that of the Beloved.’ She regularly experienced deep contemplative prayer and began to write spiritual letters, which survive with her diary. Just before Easter in 1920 she caught typhus, made her final vows and died on 12 April. Her cause was opened in 1947, she was beatified in 1987 and canonized in 1993 by Pope John Paul II. The obvious points of resemblance between her life and that of Theresa of Lisieux have helped to popularize her cult, which is said to attract 100,000 pilgrims to her shrine each year. Feast: 12 April.

Original documents in M. P. Remon O.D.C. Teresa de los Andes. Diario y Cartas (1983), also in M.D. Griffin, God, the Joy of my Life (1994); B.L.S., iv. 88–90; Bibl. SS., App. 1, 484 (s.v. Fernandez Solar).

Subjects: Christianity.


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