The place is Spain and the year is 1930, just before the Civil War. The family, the house of Quevedo: Dr. Calixto, his wife, Dona Maria, and their three children, Luis, Carmen, and Teresa, the lovely Spanish rose, and pure lily whose full name is Maria Teresa Josefina Justina Gonzalez-Quevedo, and she has been honored by the Catholic Church with the title of Venerable. One can see the character of the future Saint, affectionately known as Teresita, in one particular incident. It seemed that a young acquaintance confided to her that she was thinking of becoming a religious, with the stipulation, however, that she would first enjoy herself when she was young, and then when youth had disappeared, she would then seek admission into a convent so as to assure her eternal salvation. Horrified, Teresita responded, "What an egotist you are! . . . After you've given the best of yourself to the world! Jesus has good taste, you know, and He wants youth with all its joys and its dreams." Teresita did not believe in giving Our Lord leftovers. Even at ten years of age at the academy's retreat for girls, she wrote, "I have decided to become a Saint." It was the "I decided" part that made Teresita what she was. She single-heartedly focused on becoming sanctified and never turned back. Born on Holy Saturday, in Madrid, April 14, 1930, Maria Teresa was the daughter of Calixto Quevedo, a prominent physician, known for his skill in healing and for his charity. Her educated mother was the granddaughter of the Admiral Luis Cadarso le Y Rey, who died during a battle in 1898, aboard the Queen Cristina. During the Catholic persecution of the turbulent Spanish Civil War, Spain witnessed six members of the Quevedo family who gave their lives for their Faith. Teresita's lineage was replete with souls of skill, intelligence, and strength, and even Martyrs.
Despite the virtuous lineage, however, Teresita was not perfect at first. She could not be crossed without a reaction, and many times her will was at variance with those around her and often her hot temper got her into trouble.  Yet, she possessed a disarming smile which made her the favorite anyway. Still, it took time to tame her unruly will, her stubbornness, which can be be guided the right way. Saints were stubborn.


Teresita began her spiritual life in an atmosphere that breathed the Catholic Faith in all its beauty and joy. Lovely representations of our holy Faith by way of statues and pictures were found tastefully placed throughout the house. Every evening the family gathered for the Rosary before a beautiful wood-carved statue of the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady had revealed to Saint Dominic that "the Rosary shall make virtue and good works flourish," and how true it was for this family. This love of Our Lady's chaplet became Teresita's daily practice from the age of five. She taught her nurse and the cook to say it, as well as her friends at school. When she was at the academy, she made it a practice to say the Sorrowful Mysteries every day before the Blessed Sacrament. Another promise to Saint Dominic was that "those who propagate my Rosary shall obtain aid in all their necessities." How truly Teresita experienced this assistance and guidance of the Mother of God throughout her life.

YOUNG TERESITAThe Quevedo parents not only encouraged the outward devotions of their Faith, they truly lived their Faith. The children were very young when both parents taught their children catechism and prayers. Calixto especially delighted in teaching Teresita, whom he instructed to begin her day with this prayer: "O sweet Virgin Mary, my Mother, I offer myself today completely to thee. I beg thee to give my body, eyes, ears, and tongue, my heart and soul to Jesus. I am all thine, holy Mother of God. Watch over me!" "from early childhood, when Papa taught me to make the Morning Offering, it was always a prayer of holocaust to Our Lady."-----Total Consecration.

The family lived across from Madrid's Royal Palace until Maria Teresa was seven years old. When the Civil War broke out, blood flowed in the streets of Catholic Spain at the hands of the Communists. It was then that her father thought it best to move his family north where they had a second home; because Calixto was a prominent physician he had to live in hiding, apart from his family. Devout Catholics were persecuted and slaughtered: 7000 priests, 13 bishops, and thousands upon thousands of laymen and women murdered in just three years! The persecution claimed six members of Calixto's family, three of his own brothers, among the many who paid with their lives for their love of Christ the King and His holy Church.

The family was reunited after 16 months. The northern home was in a locale where there were street urchins and the poor. At first Teresita was repulsed by this unfamiliar sight but her father corrected this fault when he told her that these little children were poorer than even Baby Jesus and most likely prayer to him just as she did. Teresita changed and soon invited them home and gave them treats and taught them etiquette; even more, she collected toys and clothing for them.

Because of the social rest Teresita was not able to receive formal training for her First Holy Communion so her uncle, Fr. Antonio Quevedo, S.J., gave permission for home instruction. Calixto told her and her cousin Oscar about the Saints and Martyrs who gave their lives for Jesus, stories that even more real to them since they had such Martyrs in their own family. The day of her First Holy Communion------July 29, 1937------marked a transition in her life: she became noticeably more humble, she began to take correction better, and she never intentionally missed going to daily Mass. She later revealed that it was receiving Jesus for the first time that she chose Our Lady as her sole confidante as from that day on He and His Mother were firmly linked as a spiritual chain in Teresita's soul.

A few years passed and under the leadership of Spain's Franco life resumed its normal course. In 1939 the family moved back to Madrid where she received the Sacrament of Confirmation, November 9. Now she desired to be a Martyr if that was what Our Lord willed. She and her sister were students at Mount Carmel Academy and her father's sister, also named Teresa, was the Prefect of Discipline there. When she was ten she made a retreat at which time she wrote: "I have decided to become a Saint." La Madrecita, as she called Our Lady, became everything to her and her fellow students noted changes in her: she became more silent, especially during the month of May, even more generous and self-sacrificing. At thirteen she strengthened her resolve by accepting the Sister's invitation to join the Sodality of Our Lady as a slave according to the spirit of Saint Louis de Montfort. Each student received a medal and chose a motto to be inscribed on it. Teresita's was "Mother, grant that everyone who looks at me may see You."

As she approached young womanhood, she became a puzzle to others because while vivacious and social she was somehow aloof. They did not know about an event that occurred on the feast of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, December 8, when Teresita was fifteen. She had written on a holy card on that day, "Most Holy Mother, today I have solemnly promised to live holy and chaste forever. My only desire is to give You, Jesus and Mary, pure pleasure." She also wrote that her only desire was to become holy in order to please God and her beautiful Mother Mary. "I will do whatever is necessary to become holy quickly," she had confided to her favorite aunt, Mother Anita, sister of Dr. Quevedo who lived in Puerto Rico. "Teresita did not mean quickly in the usual sense of the word. What she meant was that she wanted every fiber of her being to work intensely and incessantly on the one project of her life-----her sanctity," related Mother Anita. Teresita's "quickness" of character even permeated her spiritual life.

Teresita was involved in catechesis and was the sole instructor of a very poor boy whom she prepared for First Holy Communion. She painstakingly gave him most careful guidance, especially when she learned that he was from a very sad family situation; his mother was a spiritualist. Teresita never failed to pray and sacrifice for him, and to bring him toys and candy. Her love for souls carried her interests to the Jesuit missions in Alaska, and by means of correspondence, she even adopted a little Alaskan girl, Maria Kluinalpk, as a goddaughter. Her friend used to say, "In Teresita's face there was the hope of conquering the world for Christ!" Teresita's world, however, was not a selfish world. She was truly a member of the Church Militant, and felt the growing needs of the Mystical Body of Christ.

TERESITA AT SEVENTEENSenior year posed a challenge to her. She spoke of her determination to win a special award that was called the Badge of Honor. She felt it would be a disgrace to graduate without having achieved this for Our Lady. When the distribution of awards was posted for the trimester, to her great joy, Teresita saw her name beside the coveted award. She strove to make everything in that senior year redound to her Madrecita'shonor. The feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, November 21, is very special to the Academy of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mother Teresa had given the usual Sodality lecture, encouraging the girls to assist most devoutly at the upcoming procession in honor of Our Lady. The same talk was given every year to the girls. The same hymns were sung. The same externals that Teresita had followed for years on this feast day she again followed. But something was not the same. After the festivities, observant Mother Teresa called her niece into her office, for she had seen Teresita's copious tears throughout the procession. They were not the typical senior's sentimental tears of "It's my last time doing this" tears. No. She knew her niece too well. It was here in Mother Teresa's office that Teresita voiced her determination to become a religious as a Carmelite Sister of Charity, and in fact before the close of the school year, in the month of February. Her aunt objected to her being only seventeen, too young to embrace religious life, but her aunt relented when Father Muzquiz had already approved. Her secret, she decided, would not be told to her family until the day after the Epiphany, on January 7, so that she would not disturb their Christmas. She had asked Mother Teresa not to tell her parents before she did and requested extra time to work on her embroidery for her mother before she entered. The days flew by and she still held the secret deep in her heart. But one day after thoroughly enjoying recreation time, Teresita and a friend were in the rest room exchanging some chitchat as they prepared for class. Teresita told her that this would be her last semester at school because she was going to enter the novitiate. Her friend reacted instantly with tears telling her that she couldn't leave because she couldn't imagine life at school without her. Teresita calmed her and asked for her prayers because she would soon have to tell her family and that it was going to be very difficult. Teresita stated that the only pain she would feel would be that of parting from them and having to give up her Sodality medal. Teresita took out her medal on its blue satin ribbon and put it over her friend's head, telling her to keep her dearest possession for her. She knew that God calls one to leave those whom one loves in order to find a Higher Love.

The Order which the budding Saint entered was The Institute of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity and was founded by Saint Joaquina de Vednma, canonized on April 12, 1959, by Pope John XXIII. In 1816, when Joaquina was thirty-three years old, she received a vision of Our Lord, foretelling the imminent death of her husband and Our Lord's desire for her to found a new order called the Carmelite Sisters of Charity. The Institute's primary goal is the sanctification of its members by works such as orphanages, schools, and hospitals. Postulants are only received at certain times of the year. February 23 was the day on which Teresita chose to enter.

Teresita's friend expressed her surprise at the beautiful outfit she wore to Vespers, the evening before her entrance. She responded, "A religious vocation does not spell gloom, untidiness, or bad taste. Don't you think God loves beautiful things? Isn't Our Blessed Lady called the Lily among lilies? I have always liked to dress well but this will end when I enter the convent. I will leave the world on the novitiate doorstep because I want to become a Saint. No half measures for me!" Teresita prayed for snow on her entrance day, as her patroness, Saint Therese, as a sign of predilection. Sure enough, her prayers were also answered and the convent grounds were covered with a glistening white mantle, and added to the festivities of the day.

Postulancy is the initial period in religious life wherein the candidate "knocks" [from the Latin verb "postulare"] on the door of the Order, seeking entrance. The new postulant, now addressed as Sister Maria Teresa, began her six-month preparatory period in which she was introduced to the customs and rules of the Institute. The newcomers were given much assistance by a postulant directress, novice mistress, as well as two senior novices assigned as angels to each postulant. The two angels and postulant spend much time together at recreation. The angels assist the directress in smoothing the transition from the "world" to the postulancy, which can sometimes be difficult. Two fellow postulants had been classmates with her at the academy and knew that keeping silence did not come easily to Teresita, nor did stopping recreation at the sound of the study bell. When asked how she managed to overcome herself in that regard, Sister Maria Teresa quoted the words from their first spiritual lecture, "The religious is vain who does not guard his tongue." She explained that she was now guarding hers with five keys: M-A-R-I-A. Far from perfect, she accepted correction when her weaknesses were brought to her attention, such as being too spontaneous or too dramatic when she spoke. She was also told that she moved too quickly, even during work, showing her impatience. "I entrust my progress to you, Mother Mary, do not let me give bad example by repeating these faults," she wrote in her diary. However, Sister Maria Teresa was determined to aim for perfection, and conquering these little things would lead her on to bigger things. That Teresita "stubbornness" was kicking in.

Six months flew by and the time for her novitiate arrived. On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, Mother Carmen received the five postulants in the chapter room where each, on her knees, had to ask for the Holy Habit. This simple tradition left each postulant wondering, for there was no response given. They were told that the answer would be given on the basis of the results of their first retreat. Father Muzquiz preached the Ignatian retreat, a very fruitful one for Sister Maria Teresa. She wrote in her diary, "Conditions for making a good retreat: 1. Absolute silence . . . Recollection.
2. Abandonment to Mary.
3. Generous giving of self to the Divine Retreat Master.

My dearest Mother, you know the desires I have to fulfill these points. Let Jesus ask of me whatever He wishes. I give Him my all. I am in the world only to love and serve His Heavenly Father. No longer do I desire anything for myself, either health or sickness, honor or dishonor, a long or a short life. Nothing, my dear Mother, but God alone."

She also wrote about sin and sinners. "As Religious we must prevent them (sinners) from being condemned
to Hell. With my prayers I hope to save many, but grant, my Lord, that no one be lost through my neglect."

The month of May, 1949 found Sister Maria Teresa with a bad cold and persistent cough, and she offered this little trifle to her Madrecita as a bouquet. Because she did not seem to be getting better, the doctor was called and he diagnosed her illness as severe bronchitis; another doctor, a specialist thought it might be developing into pleurisy, but eventually her health returned and she completed her first year as a novice. She said: "To become a Saint one must take two definite steps: one toward abandonment, another toward confidence. In other words, one must break all attachments, no matter how holy, and place her soul in Mary's hands, confident that she will offer it to Christ in a manner worthy of Him. Since God will not refuse His Mother anything, He will accept her offering and fashion the soul after His, which means that it will 'become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect'." Her wisdom was far beyond her years and came from a deep union with Our Lady.

In Advent, 1949, there was much excitement about the upcoming Holy Year preparations. The dogma of Our Lady's Assumption into Heaven was to be proclaimed by the Holy Father Pius XII before the end of the Holy Year. While the lively conversation continued, Sister Maria Teresa mysteriously stated that she was sure that Our Lady was going to grant her a very unique privilege. Of course this brought on a myriad of questions from the room full of Sisters during their recreation. She seemed to stop short and hold back on revealing more. But, finally the novices prevailed upon her. "Since there will be a new dogma in honor of Our Lady's prerogatives proclaimed this year, there are certain privileges bound to be extended by Our Lady to little exiles here on earth. Something tells me that one of those privileges will be mine." Then came the startling statement: "Sisters, I believe I am going to celebrate the new dogma in Heaven." Various reactions ensued: some laughed, some protested, but not one person took her seriously. Sister Maria Teresa remained steadfast. " . . . everyone of you will probable sing my requiem before the close of 1950. I know I shall be with my Mother on her glorious day." Only Mother Carmen seemed to believe her, but laughed it off, saying, "Before you make reservations for that flight to Heaven, my dear little Sister, there is a retreat debt to be settled with Our Lord." Teresita and another novice had been too weak to make the ten-day July retreat with the community and arrangements were made for the two palomitas (little doves), as Mother Carmen called the novices, to make it at a later time in September. Sister Maria Teresa made the private retreat with great fervor. "I am beginning this retreat resolved to make a good one because I need it. I am prepared to be completely generous with God . . . I have given myself to God unreservedly. I expect nothing from Him in return except the privilege of being united with my Mother Mary in Him." The retreat time flew quickly by.

A few weeks later, January 18, Sister Maria Teresa admitted to Mother Carmen that she had been suffering from a very bad headache. At that time some of the novices were sick with the flu, and assuming it was just one more case, Mother was not too concerned. After a day in the infirmary, Sister resumed her duties. But around five o'clock after her last class, she asked one of the other novices to put her books back for her in the novitiate because she felt very sick. She was again sent to the infirmary. The next morning Mother Carmen called her brother and told him that his daughter was quite ill with severe headache and fever. Dr. Quevedo arrived within the hour.

Calixto teased his daughter for visiting the infirmary again. He examined her and then visited briefly with her. His jovial exterior hid his true feelings. He then left her and spoke with Mother Carmen outside in the hallway, giving his diagnosis. He asked that the community doctor be called for a second opinion. Dr. Lozano was called in and after the laboratory tests came back both doctors agreed that Teresita had tuberculous meningitis. This illness would be agonizingly painful, most probably fatal, and would most likely cause her to lose her mental faculties. Teresita's father told Mother Carmen that he understood that his daughter would have to leave, saying that she would die within a few months no matter where she was. Mother Carmen pleaded with her brother not to take her from the infirmary, for the community felt that her presence had brought blessings and that it would be a privilege for them to care for her throughout the time that would remain to her until God would call her. It was a very difficult moment for Calixto. He knew that it would be much happier for Teresita to die in God's house. He agreed to let her stay. He went in to give the news to his daughter.

SISTER TERESAWith tender words, he explained to his daughter that she was seriously ill and gently told her that she should prepare for Extreme Unction realizing the probability that she would lose her mental faculties. Calixto knew the importance of receiving the Sacraments at the onset of the illness. Teresita squeezed his hand to show that she understood. Sister Maria Teresa confidently stated that there was nothing more that she should like than to receive the Last Sacraments. Reverend Mother Dolores Castell then stepped into the room and addressed Sister Maria Teresa of Jesus, telling her she was going to take her Holy Vows that day and would then become a professed Sister. Teresita received this news with peace and happiness and interiorly made preparations for the spiritual weapons that would sorely be needed along the last steps of the difficult road that lay before her. The Community was gathered to attend the Profession ceremony. The invalid's voice rang out confidently and joyfully when she pronounced her vows. Father Muzquiz recommended that Teresita offer the sacrifice of her life and all her sufferings for Pope Pius XII's Holy Year's intentions. "That should make me Our Holy Father's special child," she replied. From her sick bed, she joined the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel that concluded the Profession ceremony. Reverend Mother sat close by her bed and observed her closely for quite some time. "She remained for a long time with her eyes closed with an unforgettable expression of rapture on her face . . . It was something holy and indefinable that reminded me of the virgins, Agnes, Cecilia and Therese." Armed with the Church's weapons for the final battle, Hermanita Teresita was prepared to meet her Bridegroom.

Teresita's aunt, Mother Carmen, came in to say good-bye to her beloved niece before she went back to the academy. Teresita confided that her greatest comfort at this time of trial was her devotion to Our Lady and asked her to tell the Sodalists that one of them would have to take her place in the novitiate. It was a sad farewell to the aunt she loved so much and who had helped bring her to the feet of Our Lady. The mother of Sister Maria Teresa was not faring as well as her father under the burden of the impending separation from their daughter. Teresita disclosed to her father that her mother would grieve only until she reached Heaven and then she would be completely resigned. This prediction was fulfilled.

The headaches became continuous and violent, accompanied by nausea, and loss of appetite. Teresita endured everything heroically and only occasionally a silent tear manifested itself. The only relief that could be given for her pain was more pain in the form of spinal taps. Within two months she received this treatment sixty times. At times the headaches became so unbearable that she admitted to her father that she feared she would lose her sanity. She told her fellow Sisters, "If God wants it, then I want it too. If I lose my mind, remind me often of my Vows, whisper a prayer to the Madonna, such as: 'Mother, may the one who looks at me, see you' or 'Mother, teach me to love Jesus.' "

Holy Week that year was one of intense suffering. She truly began her Passion. She received Our Lord for the last time on Holy Thursday, the day on which Our Lord had given us His Sacred Body and Blood to be our spiritual food. Extreme pain set in and caused her to go in and out of consciousness. "Jesus . . . Madrecita! . . . Mother cover my life with your mantle . . . love . . . The more we love God, the more we would want to love Him . . . Lord, Lord . . . send workers into the fields . . . into your vineyard . . . many workers . . . the harvest is great but the workers are few."

Sister Maria Teresa had her mind focused on God even when her mind wandered. Good Friday came and still her sufferings increased. The Devil knew he did not have much time and also added to her suffering. She could be heard saying, "Go away from me . . . Begone Satan! Go back to Hell . . . Defend me, O Mary, defend me against the snares of the Devil." She quoted Saint Bonaventure, "Those who constantly invoke the name of Mary need not fear the hour of death because at the sound of her name the infernal spirits flee terrified."

"For Him Alone Have I Lived!"

It was Holy Saturday, April 8, 1950. Sister Maria Teresa's father kept vigil with her while the community was at Mass. He kissed her forehead, but she made no sign of recognition and seemed incoherent. Toward evening, the prayers for the dying were said aloud and her only response was a very quiet, "Pray for me." Reverend Mother was present and she feared that the prayers had exhausted her and she told Teresita that they would then be leaving to allow her to rest. The dying Sister reached out to open Mother's prayer book, indicating to her to continue with the prayers. When a message came that there was a phone call for Mother, Teresita held out her arms to indicate that she did not want her to leave, and begged for a blessing. The community left the room, and Mother Carmen whispered to her, "You love Our Lord very much!" and Teresita answered, "For Him alone have I lived." At 10:45 that night, there was a painful cry from Teresita, and Mother Carmen and the others near her began to whisper prayers to assist her. Suddenly she cried with a loud voice, "My Mother Mary, come for me. Bring me back to Heaven with you!" Again the community was summoned and filed in quietly, and sorrowfully beside her. Reverend Mother made one last plea to their foundress, Saint Joaquina de Vedruna, for a miracle, putting her relic on Teresita. Teresita held the reliquary tightly in her hands, and suddenly looked upwards, smiled, and exclaimed, "How beautiful! O Mary, how beautiful you are!" Her hands then fell loosely to her sides with her lips moving in silent prayer. Reverend Mother held the crucifix for her to kiss, which she did reverently several times. Then Mother held up Teresita's favorite picture of Our Lady for her to see. Sister Maria Teresa gazed lovingly, silently. There was a deep sigh. Then she lay very still and motionless. Our Lady had come for her.

In 1954, the beatification process was begun and on June 9, 1983, during the Holy Year of Redemption, Pope John Paul II declared Sister Maria Teresa Gonzalez-Quevedo y Cadarso "heroic in her virtues" and consequently given the title Venerable.

What we see reflected in this beautiful modern-day flower of sanctity is hope. Though we live in corrupt and amoral times, sanctity is within our reach. Our Lord said, "Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Jesus wants us to be Saints. There are great sanctifying tools that lie before us: The family, the critical unit wherein parents can nurture and foster holiness by their own example and guidance, is our challenge for sanctity. The second tool of sanctifying potential is the quickly disappearing, genuinely Catholic school, which provides not only academics, but spirituality and morality according to Holy Mother the Church's teachings. Above all, however, is the sanctifying tool of devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Let us crusade to bring back the Holy Land of our families and our Catholic schools and let us do this under the most noble of all banners, Our Lady. Let us pray to Venerable Teresita to assist us. Her secret was Mary. May it quickly become ours too.
We chose the flowers of roses for their heavenly fragrance, and sweet-peas, because as children we strew them on the path as we sang to Mary during the May procession around the parish church. O that those sweet spring days were once more repeated in glad rejoicing for God's love for us by giving us His Most Beautiful, Most Fair Mother as our own . . .



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