Teresa of the Andes
Feast Day: April 12
Venerated: March 22, 1986
Beatified: April 3, 1987
Canonized: March 21, 1993
Juanita came from a wealthy family in Santiago, Chile, where she was born in 1900. There was a chapel on the family property and Juanita attended Mass every day from the time she was a small child. She could hardly wait for her First Communion so that she could receive Jesus.
Juanita loved to read stories of the saints. When she was 14, she read The Story of a Soul, the autobiography of a Carmelite nun, Thérèse of Lisieux, who was later canonized as a saint. Thérèse’s life story had a powerful affect on Jaunita. She felt that God was calling her to serve him as a Carmelite Sister at the convent of Carmel of the Andes.
As she prepared to enter the convent, Juanita taught religion to children from her parish and worked with needy people. One day she met a young boy in rags. She brought him home and cared for him, giving him her brother’s clothes and making sure he had enough to eat. When she learned that how poor his family was, she had a raffle to help them. She donated her watch as the grand prize.
Juanita joined the convent when she was 19. She took the name Sister Teresa of Jesus, in honor of the saint she admired so much. She spent her days joyfully learning the traditions of the Carmelites. She wrote letters to many people during this time, advising them about how to grow closer to Jesus and promising to pray for them.
Less then a year later, in 1920, Sister Teresa became very ill with an infection. She was permitted to take her final vows from her bed and died a few days later. Her family was shocked at the crowds of people who came to Teresa’s funeral Mass. Her work with the poor and her comforting letters had touched many lives.
Teresa was canonized a saint in 1993. She is the first saint to come from Chile. St. Teresa’s example teaches us that we can follow Jesus by praying for and helping others.
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