St. Teresa of Jesus “de Los Andes”

Saint Teresa of Jesus, O.C.D., “de los Andes”,  (July 13, 1900 – April 12, 1920) was a Chilean nun of the Discalced Carmelite Order who was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

She was born Juana Fernández del Solar in Santiago, Chile into an upper class family. Early in her life she read the autobiography of the French Carmelite nun Thérèse of Lisieux, who was later to be canonized herself. The experience had a profound effect on Juanita’s already pious character, coming to the realization she wanted to live for God alone. She had to work to overcome a very self-centered personality toward being one which cared for others above all. Her further inspiration for this self-transformation was her upcoming First Communion, which led her to this commitment in an effort to be worthy of what she was to receive.

In 1919, at the age of 19, Juana entered the novitiate of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in the township of Los Andes, at which time she was given the name Teresa of Jesus. Toward the end of her short life, the new Sister Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. Within a few months of her admission to the Order, however, she contracted typhus, which was diagnosed as fatal. She was still three months short of her twentieh birthday, and had yet six months to complete her canonical novitiate, so as to be normally able to make her religious vows; nevertheless she was allowed to profess vows in articulo mortis (danger of death). She thereby died as a professed nun of the Order on April 12, 1920, which fell during Holy Week that year.

Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Santiago on April 3, 1987. Her brother Luis was present at her beatification; he was the last direct relative of hers still alive then. Six years later, she was canonized by this same pope.

She was the first Discalced Carmelite nun from outside of Europe to be declared a saint and the fifth “Saint Teresa” of the Order, together with the foundress, St. Teresa of Jesus, Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, the aforementioned Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.


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