St. Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra

St. Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra

“Without the cross we cannot live wherever we go, because the religious life is a life of sacrifice and of abnegation” - St. Maria Josefa Sancho de Guerra

The eldest daughter of a big Spanish Catholic family, María Josefa was born in 1842. Her mother was left in charge of the family's welfare after her father passed away at a young age. María was sent to Madrid to live with her aristocratic relatives while finishing schooling.

Although María's mother was devout and had brought up her daughter in the Catholic religion, she was taken aback when, at the age of eighteen, María returned from Madrid and insisted on entering a convent. María persistently begged her mother for permission to enter, feeling compelled to pursue a monastic vocation. After enrolling in the Institute of the Servants of Mary at the age of 18, María began to question if she had made the right decision. She left the Institute after conferring with several confessors and praying through her uncertainties.

María felt called to form her own order. At the age of 29, María Josefa established the Servants of Jesus of Charity in 1871 with the goal of serving Christ's least fortunate followers, including the underprivileged, sick, old, and children. She adopted the name María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus when she rose to the position of first superior in the order. Her order, the Servants of Jesus of Charity, has extended throughout the Spanish-speaking and European worlds; now, it has houses in the Dominican Republic, Chile, Colombia, and France.

María Josefa had a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart and believed that helping the ill and suffering was a way for her and her sisters to share in the redemptive sufferings of Christ. And this was a taste of heaven, this kindness they showed to others.

María Josefa died on March 20, 1912, at the age of 69. On October 1, 2000, during the Jubilee Year, Pope John Paul II canonized her.

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