st.Maria Soledad-Founder of the Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick

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st.Maria Soledad

Also known as: Emanuela Torres; Vibiana Torres; Maria-Desolata Torres Acosta; Maria Soledad Torres Acosta; Mary Soledad



Maria Soledad was born December 2, 1862, in Madrid, the daughter of Francis Torres and Antonia Acosta. She was baptized with the name Emanuela. When Emanuela was old enough to leave home she applied to the Dominican convent in Madrid, but was refused entry due to poor health. She spent much time in prayer asking God for guidance. Then in 1848, when she was 22, a Servite tertiary priest named Michael Martinez y Sanz recruited her and six other women for a new religious community to serve the poor and sick of Madrid; the religious had become concerned that so many were dying without receiving the Last Sacraments. This community was formally established on August 15, 1851, as the Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick. When she donned the habit, Emanuela took the name Maria-Desolata, or Maria Soledad. In 1856, Father Martinez took half of the members of the order with him to found a new house overseas, leaving Maria-Desolata behind as superior of the motherhouse in Madrid. Maria was to devote the rest of her life to running the convent. The Handmaids of Mary received diocesan approval in 1861 and papal approval in 1876. Maria contracted pneumonia on October 11, 1887, at age 60. She died quietly at the motherhouse after receiving the Last Sacraments. She was buried in the sisters’ plot at the cemetery, but then on January 18, 1893, her remains were exhumed and transferred to the motherhouse. Her body was found to be intact, though it exuded a bloody liquid, and a sweet odor was noticed by everyone there. A few years later, however, nothing remained but her bones

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