SAINT TERESA OF JESUS OF THE ANDES (1900-1920), religious and virgin – Patron saint against bodily ailments and of young people in general
Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, who is honored today by the Church, was a prophet of God for all men and women of our modern world. By the example of her life, she showed us the Gospel of Christ lived out to its final detail.
Christened Juana Enriqueta Josefina, she was born in Santiago, Chile, on July 13, 1900. Those who knew her closely called her Juanita, the name by which she is widely known today. She had a normal upbringing surrounded by her parents, three brothers and two sisters, her maternal grandfather, uncles, aunts and cousins. Juanita was raised as a faithful Catholic, who embraced her faith from an early age with great love.
Juanita was educated by the French nuns of the Sacred Heart. When she was fourteen, and under God’s inspiration, she decided to consecrate herself to our Lord as a religious in the Discalced Carmelite Order. And on May 7, 1919, she entered the tiny monastery of the Holy Spirit in the township of Los Andes, some 50 miles from Santiago.
She was clothed with the Carmelite habit in October of the same year and began her novitiate with the name of Teresa of Jesus, influenced by the autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She knew from an early age that she would die young, which our Lord had revealed to her. A month before she was to depart this life, she related everything to her confessor. She accepted all with happiness, serenity and confidence. She was certain that her mission to make God known and loved would continue in eternity.
After many interior trials and indescribable physical sufferings caused by a violent attack of typhus that cut short her life, she received the final Sacraments of the Church, and on April 7th, because of danger of death, she made her religious profession. She was three months short of her twentieth birthday. She passed from this world to her eternal reward on the evening of April 12, 1920, dying as a Discalced Carmelite novice.
One may ask, “What was accomplished by such a young person in such a short time?” In her diary, she recounts that she awakened to the life of grace while still quite young. She affirms that God drew her to Himself at the age of six, who asked her to spare no effort in directing her capacity to give of her love totally to Him. Juanita once wrote, “It was shortly after the 1906 earthquake that Jesus began to claim my heart for Himself.”
With God’s abundant grace and the generosity of a young girl deeply in love with her Savior, she gave herself over to prayer, to the acquiring of virtue and the practice of a life in accord with the Gospel. Such were her efforts that, in a few short years, she reached a high degree of personal sanctity and union with God.
Christ was the one and only Ideal she embraced. She was in love with Him and was ready each moment to crucify herself for Him. A bridal love pervaded her, with the result that she desired to unite herself fully to Him who had captivated her. As a result, at the age of fourteen she made a personal vow of chastity, which she renewed daily.
On March 21, 1993, she was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II. Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes is the first Chilean to be declared a saint, and is also the first Discalced Carmelite Nun to be declared a saint outside the boundaries of Europe.
We commemorate her feastday on April 12.
(From saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org and vatican.va/news_services)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Virgins)
“Lord, You have told us that You live forever in the hearts of the chaste. By the prayers of the virgin Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, help us to live by Your grace and remain a temple of Your Spirit.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”