Feastday: June 24
Beatified By: 25 April 2004, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: 12 May 2013, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis
Saint Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala was co-founder of the Congregation of the Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Poor, and was the first mother superior of the congregation. She was beautified by Pope John Paul II on April 25, 2004, and will be canonized on May 12, 2013.
Maria was born on April 27, 1878 in Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico. Her father, Fortino, ran a religious goods store situated in front of the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. She had a special devotion to the Lady and she made frequent prayers in the basilica.
As a young woman, she made plans to marry, however she ended these plans as she felt called to religious life.
She then pursued religious life and co-founded a new congregation on October 13, 1901, known as the Handmaids of St. Margret Mary Alacoque and the Poor. Maria spent most of her time serving as a nurse and as the Mother Superior General of the congregation.
The Congregation grew rapidly and served ever more people. However, she was also devoted to poverty, saying that only by being poor can one be with the poor. She sometimes begged for money on the street to help meet the needs of the Congregation and the patients they served.
The sisters of the Congregation also served in nearby parishes and teaching catechism.
During the Mexican Revolution, a time of great persecution for the Catholic Church which lasted from 1911 to 1936, Mother Maria his priests and even the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara in her hospital, saving them from their enemies.
Maria led the Congregation as it grew to 11 foundations in Mexico. Since her death on June 24, 1963, the Congregation has grown to include 22 houses in five different countries, with the most in Mexico.
Maria was declared venerable on Pope John Paul II on July 1, 2000, and beautified on April 25, 2004. She will be canonized by Pope Francis on May 12, 2013.
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By Deacon Keith A Fournier
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