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Chile: 30 Years Since the Canonization of Saint Teresa de Los Andes

On March 25, the 30th anniversary of the canonization of the first Chilean saint will be celebrated, in a Eucharist presided by the Bishop of the Diocese of Aconcagua, Bishop Gonzalo Bravo.


Newsroom (23/03/2023 20:55, Gaudium Press) The Episcopal Conference of Chile reports that the rector of the Shrine of Santa Teresa de Los Andes in Auco, Fr. Rodrigo Segura Orrego OCD, invites pilgrims to thank God for the “beautiful gift He has given us in the holiness of Teresita de Los Andes” by participating in the Solemn Eucharist that will be celebrated this Saturday, the 25th, at the Shrine. He added that this is an opportunity to ask her “to continue being this luminous beacon for all humanity.

Present at the Mass will be civil and ecclesiastical authorities, representatives of institutions, entities, and pilgrims who will thank God for the gift of the sanctity of Teresa de Los Andes for the universal Church.

St. Teresa of Los Andes was canonized on March 21, 1993, in the Vatican, in a celebration presided by Pope John Paul II, and attended by more than five thousand Chilean pilgrims.

Who was Santa Teresa de Los Andes?

Juanita Fernández Solar entered the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in the city of Los Andes on May 7, 1919. As a Carmelite, she was called Teresa de Jesús, not able to live a full year in the convent when she died on April 12, 1920, at the age of 19. In such a short time, she was able to consummate the career of holiness that she had begun in earnest long before her First Communion.

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One day, being with a priest friend of the family, he said to him, “Father, we are going to heaven!” After leaving the house, the priest asked her, “So, Juanita, which way do you go to heaven?” Juanita replied, “There,” indicating with her finger the Andes mountain range. The priest then replied, “After you have climbed these very high mountains, heaven will still be very far away. No, Juanita, this is not the way to heaven: Jesus in the tabernacle, this is the real way to heaven.”

Juanita possessed a great desire to make her first communion. Many times she asked when she could do it, but they answered that she was too little. Juanita then asked to be taught how to make a spiritual communion.

After receiving permission to make her First Communion, she prepared for confession, prayed a lot, and offered many small sacrifices to Jesus. “I prepared myself for a year. During that time, the Virgin helped me to cleanse my heart of all imperfections.”

She made her first communion on September 11, 1910. This day was marked for the rest of her life. From then on, she did her best to receive communion every day.

In 1914, she had to have an operation for appendicitis. And it was at this time that Juanita heard the call of Christ who invited her to give herself totally to Him and to become a Carmelite.

In September 1917, she made contact for the first time with the prioress of the Carmel of Los Andes because she had the inner conviction that God was calling her to this monastery

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In January 1919, she visited Carmelo de Los Andes. There she received the confirmation that God was calling her to this place. She entered Carmelo de Los Andes on May 7, 1919, and received the name, Sister Teresa de Jesus.

She feels a very deep joy in her heart for having given herself totally to God and for having given up what was dearest to her (her family) to follow Christ.

From the very beginning, she strives to fulfill the Rule with perfection, fidelity, and much love. She performed the most humble and unpleasant jobs. For her, the life of a Carmelite consists of three things: to love, to suffer, and to pray for the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of priests and the Church.

With the permission of her Prioress, who understands that the postulant is an exceptional soul, Teresa has an intense epistolary activity. Her letters radiate the love of Christ and the joy of belonging totally to Him. Some of her friends, moved by her testimony, entered religious life.

On September 8, 1919, Teresa was accepted to take the habit, and received it on October 14, 1919, in the presence of her family and numerous friends.

In the first days of March 1920, Therese declared to the community confessor that she had only one month left to live, asking permission to do extraordinary penances. The confessor did not believe her words, telling her to content herself only with faithfully observing the Carmelite Rule.

Despite the illness that will lead to her death, Teresa participates in all the exercises of Lent, including strict fasting. On April 2, 1920, Good Friday, Teresa began her Way of the Cross by following Christ and spending long hours in prayer on this day. The sisters noticed that she was running a high fever and forced her to rest.

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Several doctors examined her and diagnosed advanced typhus.

On April 7, Teresa made her religious profession in articulo mortis. According to custom, a novice in danger of death can pronounce her vows (if she does not die, however, she must return to the novitiate).

After much physical and spiritual suffering, Teresa gave her soul to God on April 12, 1920, at 7 p.m. “For a Carmelite, nothing is frightening about death. She will live a real life; she will be in the arms of the one she loved here on earth above all things, and will be forever immersed in love.”

Teresa de Los Andes was beatified, after a long process, on April 3, 1987, in Santiago during the visit of the Supreme Pontiff to Chile, and canonized six years later at the Vatican, becoming the first Chilean saint and the first American Discalced Carmelite to achieve such a high honor.

Compiled by Dominic Joseph

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