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?
A brief biography
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
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.
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
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
"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
"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
"Isn't love shown in sacrifice? When I think about
Jesus' love, then everything I can offer him seems to me so little" (Letter
"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).
"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
"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).
"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
"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
"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
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
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
St Teresa of the Andes' message for the 21st Century
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.
Vatican website account of St Teresa of the Andes
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.
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
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