St. Teresa of Jesus (of Los Andes)
In the beautiful land of Chile, God raised up a young girl who would die as a Carmelite and a saint at only 19 years of age. Who is St. Teresa of Los Andes?
She was born Juanita Fernandes Solar on July 13, 1900 into a wealthy aristocratic family who were devout Catholics. From the age of 6, she had an intense desire to receive Jesus in Communion but because of the Church law at the time, she had to wait till she was 10 years old. It was at this first Holy Communion that she first heard the “sweet voice of Jesus” and her spiritual life began to grow in a very hidden and modest way. She remained outwardly a very normal and happy girl, a gifted student, athletic, fun-loving, and deeply affectionate with her family and companions. Our Lord taught her how to grow in love for Him by using her normal family and student life, doing all for love, living in Him who dwelt in her soul.
She had a deep love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and when her favourite brother invited her to say the Rosary each day, she readily acceded and was remained faithful to this devotion. At around 15 years of age she made a private vow of chastity, vowing to keep her love for Jesus only. Around this same time she read the “Story of a Soul” by St. Therese of Lisieux, and then the writings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, and those of Saint Teresa of Avila. Juanita felt called to imitate these saintly Carmelite women, and eventually entered Carmel at 18 years of age.
Upon entering Carmel she was filled with joy “because everywhere we have our Jesus who is our infinite joy”. (c120) After 11 months she contracted typhus, and suffered terribly but with loving resignation.
Her brother, Luis, later wrote of his sister, “It is astonishing in that a young girl like Juanita, who left behind nothing concrete, nothing external, nothing valued by the world, should by the quality and power of her soul suddenly acquire universal homage and esteem.”
The message of St. Teresa of Los Andes to us is that only in God can one find happiness; God is infinite joy.
“O God, You chose Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes to manifest to men the joy of knowing You and loving You. This is a most delicate mission, a beautiful task confided by God to a young girl” (Bishop Enrique Alvear).
Juanita was canonized by Pope John Paul II on March 21st, 1993.
Her feast day is celebrated on July 13th.