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December 11

St Maria Maravillas de Jesús - December 11

Saint María Maravillas de Jesús

Discalced Carmelite Nun

(1891 – 1974)

“Death is no more than falling blindly into the arms of God.”

Saint María Maravillas de Jesús

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

María de las Maravillas Pidal Chico de Guzman was born as the last of four children in Madrid, Spain on November 4, 1891. Her father, Luis, was serving as the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See while her mother, Cristina, had a special devotion to Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders, or Marvels). María, whose nickname was Mavi, grew up in a devout Catholic family. She was known as an intelligent and religious child.

First Communion And Confirmation

Her maternal grandmother would tell her the lives of the saints. At the age of five, María made a private vow to remain chaste in an effort to follow the example of Saint Agnes of Rome. María received her confirmation in 1896 and later received her first communion in 1902.

Takes Her Vows to Become a Discalced Carmelite Nun 

Reading the works of Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross increased María’s interest in becoming a Discalced Carmelite. Although her vocational desire grew, María faithfully assisted her father when he became illand helped him until he died in 1913 just after her 22nd birthday.  Her mother was reluctant to accept María’s’s decision to enter the Carmelite monastery.

However, on October 12, 1919, María did enter the Discalced Carmelites of El Escorial in Madrid. She made her simple vows on May 7, 1921. 

Founded the Carmel of Cerro de los Ángeles

Before her final profession of vows on May 30, 1924, María had already received a special call from God to found the Carmel of Cerro de los Ángeles (Hill of the Angels), a monastery south of Madrid. This was not far from where the king had placed a Sacred Heart of Jesus monument. This new foundation was inaugurated on October 31, 1926 with three other Carmelites. Bishop of the Diocese of Madrid-Alcalá appointed María prioress of the monastery, a post she would hold the rest of her life.

First of Many

This was the first of the series of Teresian Carmelite Monasteries that she would establish, according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelites. María was not being called to found a new order or to “branch off” from the Discalced Carmelites – she herself was very careful in pointing this out; she only sought to live deeply and to transmit the spirit and ideals of Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross. 

María was known for her personal self-discipline — including sleeping on the floor, dressed and sitting — and for the disciplines she imposed on the community. When some criticized the convent cells for their small size and lack of comfort and the effect they might have on attracting women, her response was: “It is not our concern to plant a seed, since the Discalced Carmelites have already been founded. Even if our convents collapse, nothing will happen.”

In 1933, María established another a Carmelite convent in Kottayam, India. From this Carmel, other foundations were started in India.

Under House Arrest

She returned to Spain  In 1936, as part of the abti-clerical actions of the Spanish Civil War, On July 22, 1936, María and her sisters were expelled from their convent. However, they were welcomed by the Ursulines in Getafe (near Madrid) where the Carmelites were monitored under house arrest for fourteen months. Then, María fled to an apartment on Calle Claudio Coello in Madrid where she spent fourteen months. Even amid enormous deprivation, María instilled courage and happiness, always being an admirable example to her daughters.

Saint John Bosco Meets Father Pestarino

In September 1937, María was able to leave Madrid with her group. They travelled through to Lourdes in France and later re-entered Spain to settle in Las Batuecas in Salamanca, Spain. Here, María established another convent.

Many New Convents

In 1939, María led a group of sisters to restore the house at Cerro de los Angeles. From there, María led an expansion of the Carmelites with houses in Mancera de Abajo, Salamanca in 1944, Duruelo, Avíla in 1947, Cabrera, Salamanca 1950, Arenas de San Pedro, Avíla in 1954, San Calixto, Córdoba in 1956, Aravaca, Madrid in 1958, Talavera de la Reina, Toledo around 1960, la Aldeheula, Madrid in 1961, and Montemar-Torremolinos, Málaga in 1964. To unite these and other far-flung houses, she founded the Association of Saint Teresa in 1972. The Carmel in la Aldeheula was hugely expanded with schools, a community of houses for the local poor, church, community halls and other structures in what effectively became a small town 

Association of Saint Teresa

María strongly advocated for Discalced Carmelites who desired to live under the practices Saint Teresa of Ávila had instituted, including almost complete enclosure, extremely simple habits and sandals, and nearly total silence. It wasn’t that María objected to others embracing more relaxed conventions; she simply wanted women like her who desired to live as Saint Teresa had directed to be able to do so. In 1972, she received Vatican approval to establish the Association of Saint Teresa. 

Her Death

On December 8, 1974, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, María was anointed and received Holy Communion. On December 11, surrounded by her community in the Carmel of La Aldehuela, Madrid, María died. At the time of her death, her sisters report that María kept repeating the phrase: “What happiness to die a Carmelite!”

At her 2003 canonization, St. John Paul II said María was “motivated by a heroic faith that shaped her response to an austere vocation, in which she made God the center of her life.”

Born :                  November 4, 1891 in Madrid, Ávila, Spain

Died:                   December 11, 1974 in La Aldehuela, Ávila, Spain

Beatified:           May 10, 1998 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:        May 4, 2003 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:          December 11

Patron Saint:    None

Source:

Reflection

During the Spanish Civil War, Saint María Maravillas de Jesús was placed under house arrest just for being a nun. Although there may not be an ongoing formal civil war where you live, like Saint María Maravillas de Jesús, our world is in conflict. People tell us things are different today, and that we need to embrace or accept social changes that are vehemently opposed to our Catholic teachings. May we gain strength from Saint María Maravillas de Jesús’ example and speak up for what is real and true in our Catholic faith.

What opportunities will you have to today to profess your faith to someone who tells you “things are different now”? 

Prayers

St. María Maravillas de Jesus, some family members, friends, and acquaintances tell me I need to “get with the times” and accept things I know are wrong. Please guide my words as I share the Church’s teachings with them. Through God’s good graces and the Holy Spirit, please open their minds and souls to the truth.

St. María Maravillas de Jesus, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Adapted from Modern Saint: Maria de las Maravillas de Jesus – Catholic Digest

Lord God,
who drew Saint María Maravillas de Jesús
into the secrets of the heart of your Son,
grant through her intercession and example, that we may work together for the salvation of souls, experiencing the delights of your love.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Saint of the Day: St. María Maravillas de Jesús

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 11 December – St María Maravillas de Jesús OCD (1891-1974)

Catholic Digest – Modern Saint: Maria de las Maravillas de Jesus by Melanie Rigney

Catholic Online – St. Maria Maravillas de Jesus

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint María Maravillas de Jesús

Mary Pages – Blessed María Maravillas de Jesús

Heralds of the Gospel – St. Maravillas de Jesus – “If you let Him act…” by Sr. Carmela Werner, EP

Saints Resource – María Maravillas de Jesús

Vatican – María Maravillas de Jesús (1891-1974)

Wikipedia – María de las Maravillas de Jesús

Video Link

Saint Maria Maravillas of Jesus – YouTube (CatholicNewsAgency)

St Maria Maravillas – Model of Serenity (11-Dec feast day) – YouTube (Sensus Fidelium)