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April 12, St. Teresa de Jes˙s \"de los Andes\"

 |  NCR Today

Chile's first canonized saint was born in Santiago on July 13, 1900, to Miguel Fernandez Jarequamada and Lucia Solar Armstrong, the fifth of their seven children. She was baptized Juana Enriqueta Josephina de los Sagrados Corazones. She was called Juanita.

The family lived with Juanita's maternal grandfather in his Santiago mansion, along with numerous relatives. They spent their vacations at his "magnificent hacienda in Chacabuco, to the north of Santiago, set in 23,000 acres of land". Juanita and her brothers and sisters and cousins rode horses, played tennis, swam, walked in the mountains, enjoyed "paradise".

-- God Is All Joy: The Life of St. Teresa of the Andes, by Jennifer Moorcroft, ICS Publications, 2006.

Juanita Fernandez was educated by French Religious of the Sacred Heart. Although she was attracted to their life, she was aware of her vocation to the Discalced Carmelites from an early age. She attended parties and had a pololeo -- a friendship with a boy, but she avoided dancing by offering to play the piano or the guitar.

In May, 1919, Juanita entered the Carmel at Los Andes. In October, she received the habit and was named Sr. Teresa of Jesus. In March, 1920, she contracted typhus. On April 7, she was diagnosed with "perforated typhus in its advanced stages". On that day, during a period of lucidity, she professed her vows and received Communion for the last time. She died on Monday, April 12, 1920. She was buried as a Discalced Carmelite novice.

The Chilean television mini-series, St. Teresa of the Andes, available from Amazon, gives an in-depth look at Juanita's family and the society in which they moved, and at the Carmelite life she embraced.

The DVD is also available from Ignatius Press. On their page, you can click on a sample to see the dramatization of Juanita's clothing ceremony. Her family is in attendance.

More clips.

The mini-series provides details about Juanita's education and about her relationships with schoolmates, teachers, servants, and with her parents, siblings, and other relatives. The interiors and the costumes are fascinating: notice the spats on the men and their evening capes; notice the head coverings worn by the women in church and the elaborate hats worn outside of church; notice the traditional ribbons worn by the students at the Sacred Heart school.

The mini-series (which is sometimes shown on EWTN) also reveals the difficulties the family faced after the death of Juanita's rich grandfather. Her father made unwise investments and lost much of his wife's fortune. It also shows the problems that beset Juanita's brothers and sisters.

(There are many scenes available on YouTube, but the quality is poor.)

Click here to see a picture of Juanita Fernandez dressed in the habit of a Discalced Carmelite. The picture and the one of her in ordinary clothing were taken a few days before she entered the convent. Cameras were not allowed inside the Chilean Carmel, but Juanita was allowed to borrow a habit and dress in it for the photograph. (The custom of painting and later photographing nuns was important in Latin America.)

Teresa de los Andes was
canonized by Pope John Paul in 1993.

A Spanish bibliography.

An English bibliography.

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