St. Teresa of the Andes
Virgin of our Order
Feast Day: 13 July

St Teresa of the Andes died on 12th April 1920

Who was Teresa of the Andes?

Humanity and humour of a saint

Quotes of St Teresa of the Andes

Prayer of Juanita to the Virgin Mary

St Teresa's message for the 21st Century

Prayer for the intercession of
St Teresa of the Andes

Further Reading

Who was Teresa of the Andes?
A brief biography

Juana Enriqueta Josefina Fernandez Solar was born in Santiago, Chile, on 13 July 1900.  Those who knew her closely called her Juanita. She was raised with her parents, three brothers, two sisters, and surrounded by relatives. Her family was well-off and faithful to their Christian faith. She awakened to the life of grace when she was still quite young, saying in her diary that it was about the age of 6 where God began to claim her heart for himself. But she had many difficult personality traits to overcome - she was proud, self-centred and stubborn, and yet had remarkable determination to overcome her own defects.
Juana was educated in the college of the French nuns of the Sacred Heart. At the age of ten she made her First Holy Communion. Understanding that God was going to dwell within her, she set about acquiring all the virtues that would prepare her for this great day. In the shortest possible time she managed to transform her character completely. After her First Communion, she bagan to receive mystical graces and interior locutions from God.
When she was fourteen, under God's inspiration, she decided to consecrate herself to God as a religious in the Discalced Carmelite Nuns, and at the age of fifteen she made a vow of virginity for 9 days, continually renewing it from then on. Her desires were realised when she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Holy Spirit in the town of Los Andes on 7 May 1919. She received the Carmelite habit on 14 October the same year and began her novitiate with the name of Teresa of Jesus.
Teresa possessed an enormous capacity to love and to be loved, joined with extraordinary intelligance. God allowed her to experience his presence. Knowing him, she loved him; and loving him, she bound herself totally to him, even through many interior trials. She knew for a long time that she would die young, and this came to pass when she contracted typhus and died on 12th April, only three months short of her 20th birthday, while still a Carmelite novice. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago de Chile on 3 April 1987 and canonised by him on March 21st 1993 in Rome. She is the first Chilean to be declared a Saint. She is the first Discalced Carmelite Nun to become a Saint outside the boundaries of Europe and the fourth Saint Teresa in Carmel (together with Saints Teresa of Avila, of Florence and of Lisieux).



Humanity and Humour of a Saint

People often imagine saints to be austere persons... but these extracts from a letter,
written by Juanita to her sister Rebeca (still at the Sacred Heart high school in Santiago)
shows us a young girl who laughs and jokes with her friends:

"I'm very Yankee. Herminita and I went on long trips by foot all by ourselves. Sometimes we were covered with mud up to our ankles, because we'd been darting in every direction. Nothing stopped us. We overcame every obstacle; in a word, we excelled in courage. The other day I had an enjoyable horseback ride. We galloped with Chubby from two in the afternoon till four thirty. Since it was raining, we both went out with large blankets, so that we looked like comical characters. Did we laugh! And as we went along I was thinking about you, little Dove, studying or scrupulously sewing. I am very good at riding. The other day we went on an outing to a nearby farm. We left about 9 and returned at 12. You wouldn't believe how much I kidded Herminia. We kept breaking out in laughter."

"Yesterday I had a colossal fright. We went out to go through the pasture lands, and our favorite spot is a river surrounded by lots of vegetation. After crossing a large irrigation ditch by making bridges with stones (which kept Chubby from sinking), we came to a bank where we rested a while. We were inspired by the beauty of nature. And then we returned. Suddenly, I heard a noise in the fields. I looked and saw that I had stepped on a snake with her young ones. I don't think a scream like mine has ever before come from the human mouth. I ran screaming desperately, until I ran into Don Pepe, who had been very much frightened by our screams. He helped us get through. I thought of you, who surely would have taken the snake and wrapped it around your arm. I may bring you some lizards when I leave, for here we're stepping on them all the time."

"I've become famous for my fits of laughter. (I outdid Chopi Salas). We've done nothing but kid around. Prepare yourself. We are the last ones at table with Pepe. We've told so many jokes and laughed so much that sometimes I can't eat. And the most tragic part of it was that the priest who said grace after the meal had to stop his prayer halfway through. He was unable to continue because of the laughter and because we infected him with our laughter. In the morning Herminia comes to wake me up with water and chairs, a blanket and everything she finds along her way and throws it all at me on top of the bed. So during the day I get even, and at night I don't let her sleep. And I want you to know that she beds down very early. "


Quotes of St Teresa of the Andes

Sacrifice:

"Isn't love shown in sacrifice? When I think about Jesus' love, then everything I can offer him seems to me so little" (Letter 156).

"The more we love, the more we need sacrifice and the more we ardently desire it" (Letter 121).

"We need sacrifice, renouncement of our own will to reach complete union with Our Lord" (Letter 39).

"I shall foster to work for the happiness of others" (Diary §20).

Prayer:

"A soul united to Jesus and identified with him can do everything. It seems to me that this can be reached only by prayer" (Letter 130).

"It is in prayer that the soul learns to know Jesus and thus to love him. Since love cannot be satisfied with difference but with equality, the result is union in similarity" (Letter 141).

"I can say that my life is a continuous prayer, for everything I do I do it out out of love for my Jesus" (Letter 52).

"God is my heaven here below. I live with him. Even when I am walking, we speak together without being interrupted by anyone. If you would know him enough, you would love him. If you would stay with him for one hour, you would know heaven on earth" (Letter 40).

Love for Christ:

"What do you want, Lucho: Jesus Christ, this 'mad of love', made me mad" (Letter 107).

"To the extent that we know this God made man, we come to love him madly. I would like you to know him in order to be truly in love with him… How not to love this Jesus of our soul? He is uncreated Beauty, eternal Wisdom, Goodness, Life, Love… Oh! Love Jesus. Who can love you better? He thirsts for your heart" (Letter 136).


Joy:
 
"Who can make me happier than God? In him I find everything" (Letter 81).

"I am happy and shall never cease to be so because I belong to my God. At every moment I find in him my heaven and an eternal and immutable love. I don't desire anything but him and this love grows in my soul inasmuch I see myself introduced in the the bosom of his divine love and adorable perfections" (Letter 148).

"It is impossible to imagine how happy I am. I feel peace, so intimate a joy that I tell myself that if people in the world would see this happiness, all would run to shut themselves in convents" (Letter 133).

"I am the happiest creature in the world. God is infinite joy" (Letter 101).

"I am the happiest creature. I don't desire anything more because my whole being is satiated by God who is Love" (Letter 110).

Friendship:

 "I understand the value of a good friend. I was truly feeling the need to expand myself into someone who understands me and feels what I feel. How much good you did to me!" (Letter 31).

"Let us thank God to have united our souls by the bond of true friendship, which consists in mutually perfectioning ourselves to get closer to God" (Letter 82).

"When God's love takes possession of a heart, it transforms it, it makes human love divine, so to speak" (Letter 44).



Prayer of Juanita to the Virgin Mary

In February of 1917 Juanita went with her mother in pilgrimage to the shrine of the Lourdes Grotto in Santiago. She wrote in her Diary the following meditation as a prayer to Mary.

Yes, Mother, you are the celestial Madonna who guides us. You allow heavenly rays to fall from your maternal hands. I didn't believe such happiness could exist on earth; yesterday my heart, while thirsting for it, found it. My soul was ecstatic at your virginal feet, listening to you. You were speaking and your maternal language was so tender. It was from heaven, almost divine.

In seeing You so pure, so tender, and so compassionate, who would not be encouraged to unburden his intimate sufferings to you? Who would not ask you to be his star on this stormy see? Who is there who would not cry in your arms without instantly receiving your immaculate kisses of love and comfort? If he be a sinner, your caresses will soften him. If one of your devoted ones, your presence would enkindle the living flame of divine love. If he be poor, you with your powerful hand will aid him and show him his true homeland. If rich, you will sustain him with your breath against the dangers of his very agitated life. If one is in affliction, you with your tearful gaze will show him the cross and on it your Divine Son. Who will not find balm for his pains by considering the torments of Jesus and Mary? The sick man finds in your maternal heart the water of salvation that allows your enchanting smile to blossom forth, and makes him smile with love and happiness.

Yes, Mary, you are Mother of the entire universe. Your heart is filled with sweetness. At your feet let the priest prostrate himself with the same confidence as the virgin in order to find in your arms the fullness of your love. The rich as well as the poor can find in your heart their heaven. The afflicted as well as the happy can find on your mouth a celestial smile. The sick as well as the healthy can find caresses from your sweet hands. And, finally, sinners like myself find in you a protecting Mother who can crush beneath her immaculate feet the head of the dragon. And in your eyes I see mercy, pardon and a shining lamp to keep me from falling into the muddy waters of sin.


St Teresa of the Andes' message for the 21st Century

Many people wonder what we can learn from the life of St. Teresa of the Andes, given that she obviously received special graces from God and died in holiness at such a young age. However, we must remember that saints are God's masterpieces, and in all of them, including Teresa of the Andes, we discover a new marvel realized by God's grace in a human person. 

Teresa of the Andes lived nearly her entire life in the world where the greatest part of her sanctification took place. She shows us how to sanctify ourselves in daily activities: family life, school, vacations, sports, etc. Because she died at nineteen, Teresa of the Andes is a particularly attractive model of holiness for young people. As a young person, Juanita had a very loving heart, very desiring to establish bonds of friendship. Many letters show how much she loved her friends and enjoyed spending time with them. She regularly asked to receive news from them. At the same time she tried to sanctify her friendships, understanding that the grace of God, far from destroying a true human friendship, purifies it and ennobles it. Teresa of the Andes shows young people today where true happiness lies: God is infinite joy! She had the joy of God in her heart and was radiating it through her face and through her letters. Teresa's joy was neither easy nor superficial. It was the fruit of her great love for God, of her total gift of herself to Christ, of the generosity with which she accomplished the will of God and worked hard with the Lord's grace to purify her heart from pride and egoism. In this way Teresa allowed God's joy to overflow in her heart.

Teresa of the Andes inspires us through her insatiable thirst for God and her absolute love for Christ. She understood that prayer was essential to live united with Christ. Since her childhood she used to dedicate time to silent prayer. She tried to constantly live in the presence of God. In her letters she encourages the members of her family and her friends to pray. She was an apostle of prayer. Her love for Jesus reached a summit quite extraordinary for such a young girl. And yet she understood that love of Christ also involves sacrifices. For Juanita, sacrifice consisted mainly in renouncing her own will to always prefer the will of God, in forgetting herself to help and serve others. This message is more relevant than ever in our modern world of materialism and individualism. 


Prayer for the Intercession of St Teresa of the Andes
God of mercy, joy of the saints,
you set the young heart of Blessed Teresa
ablaze with the fire of virginal love
for Christ and for his Church;
and even in suffering made her a cheerful witness to charity.
Through her intercession,
fill us with the delights of your Spirit,
so that we may proclaim by word and deed
the joyful message of your love to the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.
Vatican website account of St Teresa of the Andes

Wikipedia listing:
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_the_Andes

Facebook group for St Teresa of the Andes


Youtube video clip from the movie on the life of St. Teresa of the Andes

Homily at the beatification mass in Chile, 1987 (text in Spanish)


Extract from the homily at the canonisation mass in Rome, 1993


The text on this page has been adapted from material on the official website of St Teresa of the Andes and also from the "Calendar of Carmelite Saints" published by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore



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