María Maravillas of Jesús
Feast Day: December 11
Canonized: May 4, 2003
Beatified: May 10, 1998
Venerated: December 17, 1996
María Maravillas Pidal y Chico de Guzmán was born into an important royal family in Madrid, Spain, in 1891. Her father was also Spain’s ambassador to the Vatican. The family was very religious, and María was always encouraged to put God first in her life. She prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide her in knowing how God wanted her to serve him. God blessed María with a religious vocation.
She joined the Carmelite order in Madrid in 1920. Before she took her final vows, she and three other nuns were chosen to open another Carmelite monastery in central Spain. It was a true house of prayer and helped many people turn their lives to God. María became the Superior of the house and the nuns called her “Mother.” She saw the growth of the convent as a sign from God to establish more Carmelite houses wherever they were needed.
The opportunity to expand came quickly. The bishop asked her to open a monastery in India in 1933, the first of many that were founded because of María’s work among the people.
Shortly after she returned to Spain, the Spanish Civil war broke out. María and her Sisters were arrested because some people blamed Catholics for Spain’s problems. The nuns lived under house arrest and threats for over a year. When they were freed, the Sisters had to rebuild the first house they have founded. It had been completely destroyed in the war. In many cases, the convents the nuns established were just the beginning. Houses for the poor, schools, churches, and medical centers were added. The communities were like small towns, because Mother María and her sisters recognized the needs of the people they served in Jesus’ name. She even helped start colleges for poor young people.
Mother María died at the age of 83 in 1974 after a life of good works. She was canonized in 2003 by Pope John Paul II. Her entire life was spent loving God and her neighbor. We, too, can look for practical ways to show our love for God by helping others.
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