Spirituality for Today – August 2008 – Volume 13, Issue 1

Saint of the Month

St. Joachima de Mas – August 28

A photo of an illustration of Saint Joachima de MasThe daughter of a Catalonian nobleman, Lorenzo de Vedruna, and Teresa Vidal, Joachima de Mas y Vedruna was born in 1783. From the age of 12, she wanted to become a Carmelite nun. But when she was 16, she instead married Teodoro de Mas, a lawyer. It is said that Teodoro had not been sure which of three Vedruna daughters he wanted to marry, so he offered each of them a box of sugared almonds. Two of the girls dismissed the treat as childish, but Joachima was delighted with it, so he chose her. The couple had eight children.

In 1816, Teodoro died suddenly. Grief-stricken, Joachima joined the Franciscan Third Order for laypeople. For the next seven years, she took care of her children, devoted herself to prayer and cared for the sick in a local hospital.

Once her children were grown, Joachima was finally able to fulfill her childhood dream of pursuing the religious life. In 1826, with the support of an influential layman, Josť Estrada, she founded a nursing order, the Carmelites of Charity. The first six nuns to join the Order lived in Joachima's home. Within a few months, the women managed to open a new hospital at Tarrega. The Order soon spread throughout Catalonia. During the Spanish Civil War, the sisters cared for the sick and wounded on both sides.

Meanwhile, in 1850, Joachima began to feel the first effects of a paralysis that would completely cripple her eventually. In 1851, she resigned the leadership of her Order. When she died on August 28, 1854, Joachima de Mas had established convents, with hospitals and schools throughout Catalonia. She was canonized in 1959.

We are enclosed, O eternal Father,
within the garden of Your breast.
You drew us out of Your holy mind
like a flower petaled with our soul's three powers,
and into each power You put a whole plant,
so that it might bear fruit in Your garden,
and might come back to You with the fruit You gave.
And You would come back to the soul,
to fill her with Your blessedness.
There the soul dwells – like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives