Author and Publisher - Catholic Online
As a child, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, of Zapopan, Mexico, would frequently visit the town's Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, adjacent to her father's religious goods store. At the age of twenty-three, Maria suddenly reversed her previous plans to marry, sensing that she had a religious vocation. Upon learning of this, Maria's spiritual director invited her to co-found with him a religious congregation for the care of hospital patients. In 1901 the "Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary and the Poor" was founded, with Maria as the congregation's first mother superior. She nursed the sick physically and spiritually, sustained by her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while leading a life of strict poverty, in accord with her maxim that she and her fellow sisters should be "poor with the poor." During the worst years of the Mexican government's persecution of the Catholic Church, Mother Maria risked her own life to shelter priests at her hospital. Her charity to those persecuting the Church prompted some of them to defend the hospital from attacks. Mother Maria died on June 24, 1963.
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By Matt Hicks
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