Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health Vailankanni The Place of Our Lady's Apparitions

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Saint Joachina de Vedruna (16 April 1783 – 28 August 1854)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Saint Joachina de Vedruna (16 April 1783 – 28 August 1854)

St. Joachina was a Catalonian nun, founder of the Carmelite Sisters of the Charity. She was born into a noble family. As a young girl, Joachina believed she wanted to be a nun, but she married Theodore de Mas, a man from a royal family in Barcelona, Spain in 1799, when she was only 16 years old. They had nine children before Theodore was killed when Napoleon invaded Spain. When husband died in 1816 and she moved with her children to their estate in Vic. Here, she began her charitable activities with the sick and young women. Her spiritual director, the Capuchin Esteban de Olot, suggested she establish an apostolic congregation devoted to education and charity. The order cared for the sick, the poor, and anyone in need of an education. They built houses for the homeless and started schools in poor areas. The bishop of Vic, Pablo Jesús Corcuera, told her the institute should be of Carmelite inspiration. The same bishop wrote the rule on 6 February 1826, and 20 days later she and another 8 women professed their vows. Within the next few years, Joaquina's Carmelites founded several houses in Catalonia. During the First Carlist War (a civil war in Spain from 1833 to 1839), she had to flee from Spain because she had founded a hospital in the Carlist town of Berga that was threatened by the fighting. As a result, she went to Roussillon, France, where she stayed from 1836 to 1842.

Her apostolic congregation was definitively approved in 1850. In spite of serious challenges posed by civil war and secular opposition, the institute she founded soon spread throughout Catalonia. Thereafter, communities were established throughout Spain and Hispanic America. Eventually, she was forced to resign as superior of her order due to sickness; although she died during a cholera epidemic in Barcelona, she slowly succumbed to paralysis over the final four years of her life. By the time of her death in 1854 at the age of 71, Joaquina was known and admired for her high degree of prayer, deep trust in God and selfless charity. She was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1940 and was canonized in 1959.