Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Juana María Condesa Lluch (1862-1916), Foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate Conception, Protectress of Workers. She was born in Valencia, Spain, on 30 March 1862, into a wealthy Christian family. She received a well-rounded human and Christian formation from her parents. She was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Mother, opening her eyes and heart to the needs of those around her and nourishing a deep the desire to help the neediest. She had a deep prayer life and already as an adolescent, felt that God was calling her to live in deep communion with Him. Those who knew her saw that she "lived the ordinary in an extraordinary way". Her joy, self-giving and humility enabled her to touch a multitude of hearts.
She was especially sensitive to the plight of the exploited factory workers who, with the rapid growth of industrialization in the 19th century, were forced to leave the countryside to seek work in the cities. Their only option was work on the assembly-line; they were usually treated as mere "instruments" and stripped of their dignity. Juana wanted to help them materially, morally and spiritually. When she was only 18 years old, she felt called to consecrate herself totally to God and to found a religious order that would be committed to helping exploited workers and their families.
The Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Antolín Monescillo, considered her too young to begin a Congregation, but after struggling for several years, in 1884 she received permission to open a shelter to welcome and to offer spiritual formation and human dignity to the oppressed workers.
A few months later, Juana opened a school for the factory workers' children in the shelter. She was joined by other young women who also felt called to the religious life and to "live and give their all for the good of the workers". Convinced that this religious family was a fruit of the Spirit for the good of the Church in the 19th century, Juana continued her work to have it approved by the Church as a religious congregation. She followed Christ and, embracing the evangelical counsels, devoted her life to serving him in the workers.
In 1892, the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate Conception, Protectress of Workers, received diocesan approval. The number of its members rapidly increased and it spread in other industrial zones. In 1895, Juana and the first sisters made their first vows and in 1911 their perpetual profession.
A key to Sr Juana's spirituality is her desire to be known as the "the Handmaid of the Lord", living, like Mary, unconditional acceptance of God's will, conforming to God's will and seeing God's will in everyday events. As she said so often to her sisters, she longed "to be holy in heaven, without any ostentation on earth". She was known as a "Biblical woman, full of courage in her decisions and evangelical in her action". It was this "evangelical action" that she was anxious to pass on to her sisters, desiring that they live with total confidence in God and, through their lives, transmit to the workers around them "the Gospel Beatitudes".
Mother Juana died in Valencia, Spain, on 16 January 1916. On 14 April 1937, the Congregation received temporary pontifical approval from Pope Pius XI; on 27 January 1947 definitive approval from Pope Pius XII.
Biography Provided By: The Vatican
In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to ... continue readingMore Female Saints
St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading
The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading
Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians. Yet Therese died ... continue reading
By Deacon F.K. Bartels
St. Teresa's whole life is one of simple beauty and fervent purpose; it is a life contained in Christ. She shows us how to live the same way through Prayer.On reading from St. Teresa, a deep feeling of her love for His Majesty envelops us; we begin, in a very real, ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes