Born in 1560 at Tartanedo (Spain) she took the Discalced Carmelite habit at Toledo in 1577 and made her profession the following year. She spent the rest of her life serving God in that Carmel, except for a brief period in 1585 when she helped with a foundation at Cuerva. She died at Toledo on 13th September, 1640. St Teresa of Jesus thought extremely highly of her. She was a great contemplative, intensely devoted to our Lord, and often drawing inspiration from the liturgy.
A reading from Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Jesus
What I mean by meditation is to busy one’s understanding in the following way. We begin to think about God’s goodness to us in giving us His only Son, but we don’t stop there: we go on to all the other mysteries of His glorious life. Or we begin with His prayer in the garden, and our understanding doesn’t stop until we picture Him nailed to the cross. Or we take a single scene from the passion, and go on thinking about that one mystery, working out in detail everything that can be thought or felt about it. It is a very admirable and meritorious kind of prayer.
No soul that has received so much from God, such precious proofs of His love, can forget them. They are live sparks that can only intensify what we feel for our Lord. Anyone who says he can’t dwell on these mysteries is quite mistaken. He will often have them in mind, especially when they are being celebrated by the Catholic Church.
The company of our beloved Jesus, and His blessed Mother, is far too good to be given up. For my own part I could not wish for any blessing that had not been won for us by Him, through whom every good thing comes to us.
Our Lord said Himself, “No one can come to the Father except through me,” and “Whoever sees me, sees my Father.” So if we never look at Him, or think about what we owe Him and the death He underwent for our sake, I don’t see how we can hope to know Him or do anything to serve Him. (Without such good works, what good is faith? And what good are works unless they are joined to the merits of Jesus Christ, our only good, which alone have any worth?) And how can anyone persuade us to love our Lord?”
Excerpt from “Carmel: Its History, Spirit, and Saints”
By: Discalced Carmelites P. J. Kenedy, New York, New York, USA, 1967.
“Venerable Mary of Jesus, a most illustrious daughter of St. Teresa, was born at Tartanedo in the province of Guadalajara, August 18, 1560, of parents distinguished for ancestry and virtue. Before she could speak, she knew and tenderly loved God and proved her supernatural knowledge by fasting even in infancy like some of the greatest saints, as soon as she was permitted food. She loved to make little churches, and to dress her dolls to represent Our Lady, and she was ever a model of childlike virtues.
Her vocation to Carmel was supernatural; three distinct times when praying before an image of Jesus bearing His Cross, she heard the words: “I wish thee to be a Carmelite.” As she hesitated where to apply, the Most Holy Virgin said to her: ” I desire you to be a Carmelite in Toledo.” There she received the habit, and during the ceremony two Religious saw her accompanied by Our Lord, Our Lady, and St. Joseph.
St. Teresa wrote to the Nuns of Toledo: “Daughters, I have sent you Mary of Jesus with five thousand ducats — I assure you that I would give fifty thousand with pleasure for such a one.” And again the Saint said, “Mary of Jesus not only will be a saint, but she is one now.” There was difficulty at her Profession because of her delicate constitution, but Saint Teresa wrote that if they did not admit Mary of Jesus to Profession she would be transferred to Avila, feeling confident that the Monastery which possessed her would be the most fortunate of all.
On her Profession day, a number of the Religious present saw Our Lord interpose His hands to receive her vows at the moment when she placed hers in the hands of the Prioress. She had the gifts of prophecy, discernment of spirits, visions, ecstasies, and revelations, but she was most admirable for the solidity of her spirit and the depth of her humility. St. Teresa affirmed: “Much has been said of Mary of Jesus, but now that I have seen her I declare that she is more than they have told me.” She had a keen intellect and sound judgment, and the Saint used to call her playfully, ” my little counselor.”
The Cardinals Quiroga and Zepata used to visit her, and Philip III sought her opinion on difficult matters, and on leaving her remarked: ” Never have I spoken to a more intelligent woman.”
Her piety equaled her intelligence, and her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was so intense as to be a marked characteristic. Once on the Ascension, she cried out to Our Lord, ” Thou dost not leave us orphans,” and He answered, ” No, I do not leave you orphans, since I remain in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Contemplate Me in It, and behold thy heart in Me.” In the Divine Heart of her Lord she fixed her abode, there she reposed, there her soul was enkindled with seraphic love, and in the brightness of its flames she saw what passed in the hearts of other ardent lovers. ” To the Heart of my Jesus,” she wrote, ” we have to fly as doves, and there, too, make our nest.” Jesus Christ said to her one day: ” I hold thee in My Heart to enjoy the ardor of My love.” Her devotion to Our Lady was equally remarkable, and was manifest from earliest childhood. ” She is my Mother and is all goodness to me,” she said, and her love was recompensed by many tender words and loving visions of our dear Lady, especially when she was suffering from severe illnesses.
Her longing was ” rather to suffer than to enjoy,” and in her early religious life she made a compact with Jesus never to pass a day without something to suffer. Her offering was accepted, and great were her tribulations, scruples, aridities, abandonments, and interior trials of every description. Contempt and persecution were added to her chalice of suffering; the demon, too, was permitted to torment her innocent soul. Never did she lose interior peace, or give way to the least complaint. She rejoiced in all, looking upon trial as a mercy and a caress from the divine Hand. ” Certainly,” she said, ” I should not be contented in this exile without suffering for God. The only good in life is the power of suffering for the Supreme Good; … the privation of the eternal life is only tolerable with suffering.”
Mary of Jesus was regarded as a saint in life by the most distinguished theologians and contemplatives as well as by all who knew her. She died September 13, 1640, at eighty years of age, sixty-three of which she had passed in religion. Her body was preserved and distilled a sweet oil and exhaled a delightful fragrance. Devotion has spread throughout France, Italy, Flanders, and the Americas. Her Cause was begun in Toledo January 15, 1914, and was presented in Rome January 3, 1916. Favors are being granted, and it would seem that God wills the exaltation of His faithful and humble Carmelite, Mary of Jesus.”