Feast Day : May 22
Patronage: abuse victims; death of children; exiles; widows Name meaning: God will order
Also known as: Joaquina Vedruna de Mas
Joaquina de Vedruna was born on April 16, 1783, in Barcelona, Spain, the daughter of Lorenzo de Vedruna, a government functionary, and Teresa Vidal. Her family was very religious and, even as a child, so was Joaquina. She paid particular devotion to the infant Jesus. She was also obsessively clean, not letting even a speck of dirt mar her clothes. At 12, she wished fervently to become a Carmelite nun, but the order wouldn’t accept her because they considered her too young to make such an important decision. In 1799, at the age of 16, Joaquina married Teodoro de Mas, a friend of her father and like him an employee of the government. Undecided about which of Lorenzo’s three daughters to wed, Teodoro had given them a box of candy. The older girls had rejected it as a childish gift, but Joaquina had accepted it with joy, exclaiming: “I love almonds.” Joaquina bore Teodoro nine children before Spain came under French domination in 1808 and Teodoro went to fight in the wars of liberation. Joaquina fled Barcelona with her children, and on their way out of town met an old woman who conducted them to Vich, where she took them into her home. Joaquina always believed that the Virgin Mary had had a hand in helping them. Then one day she heard a voice that told her that she would soon be a widow. Indeed, news soon came that Teodoro had been killed. Leaving all her clothes with the woman who had befriended her, Joaquina dedicated herself to helping the poor and attending the sick and injured in the hospitals. At first people thought she had gone mad from grief at her husband’s death. For the next 10 years she dedicated herself to penitence, prayer and works of charity, asking God to let her know what he planned for her future. When four of her daughters entered convents and her four sons married, she was at last free of the responsibilities of the home and able to realize her childhood dream of becoming a nun. Joaquina chanced to meet a Capuchin friar, Esteban de Olut, who advised her on founding her own order, the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of Charity, in 1826. With the support of the bishop of Vich, Jesús Corcuera y Corcuera, the order began with eight sisters, but soon spread throughout Catalonia, establishing hospitals and schools, especially for the poor. The Carmelite Sisters of Charity received papal approval in 1850 and has since spread worldwide. In 1850, Joaquina began to feel the first symptoms of a paralysis that eventually was to make her completely immobile. She gave up all of her charges and devoted herself to a life of prayer, dying of cholera during an epidemic in Vich, August 28, 1854.