+St. Teresa of Jesus “of the Andes”
“Oh, my Jesus and my Mother, may I belong to Him forever. May nothing on earth claim my attention but the tabernacle. Preserve me pure for Yourself so that when I die I can say: how happy I am now that at last I can lose myself in the infinite Ocean of the Heart of Jesus, my adored Spouse.”
(excerpt from Drink of the Stream: Prayers of Carmelites compiled by Penny Hickey)
Juana Enriqueta Josafina de los Sacrados Corazones was born in Santiago, Chile, July 13, 1900. Her parents were wealthy and aristocratic and has six children. Juana was the fourth and was affectionately called Juanita by her family. From the age of five, Juana never tired of listening to people talk about God or other religious subjects. She loved and excelled in horseback riding and was a real beauty. This led to vanity, which she worked very hard to overcome, along with other faults.
From the time she was six she attended daily Mass and said that “Jesus took her heart to be His own.” She yearned to receive Holy Communion, but was restricted because of her age. This was a time of purification for her. The night before her First Communion she went to the members of her family and begged forgiveness for any time she might have hurt them. She says that her First Communion was “truly a fusion between Jesus and her soul...” This was at the age of ten. Each time she received Communion Juana records that “Jesus spoke with her for a long time.”
She had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and daily prayed the Rosary. Juana kept an intimate diary from the age of fifteen until she died. She suffered frequent and serious illnesses, but joyfully lived her faith even more seriously. Her diary reveals that Juanita saw her life as a composed of suffering and love. Her scholastic achievements were very notable, but she was most proud of being a “Child of Mary.” This gifted one was also a musician, playing the piano and harmonium and singing beautifully.
She made a vow of virginity at the age of fifteen and determined to enter Carmel. She loved parties and dancing, but she also had the desire to care for the poor. She prepared for her entrance to Carmel by corresponding with the prioress, opening her soul for guidance. The big day arrived on May 7, 1919, at Los Andes. She wrote to her family eight days later, “It is eight days since I have been in Carmel, eight days of heaven.”
This heaven was marked with serious illness, and during Holy Week of 1920 it reached its peak. Juanita, now Sister Teresa of Jesus, had contracted typhus. After receiving the last sacraments, she was permitted to make her religious vows in the Carmelite Order. On April 12, 1920, she went to sleep in the arms of her Lord. She had recorded earlier, “To die is to be eternally immersed in Love.” Her feast day is celebrated on July 13.