Javascript is currently disabled. This site requires Javascript to function correctly. Please enable Javascript in your browser!

Saint Maria Soledad

Saint Maria Soledad
  • Century: 19th Century
  • Patronage: The Sick, The Poor
  • Feast Day: October 11th

St. Maria Soledad was born and baptized with the name Bibiana Antonia Acosta, in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 1826.  She was the second of five children.  Her parents ran a small business in Madrid.  St. Maria Soledad was educated by the Daughters of Charity, and often visited the sick in her neighborhood.  She performed small penances for the benefit of others.    

Because of her poor health, she was unsuccessful in entering the Dominican community, as she desired to become a nun.  In 1851, Fr. Michael Martinez, a parish Priest and member of the Third Order of the Servites, asked her to minister to the sick and poor of his parish, in their homes.  She accepted, and with six companions she began this ministry taking the name Maria Soledad.  

Five years into the ministry, Fr. Michael took six of the Sisters with him to the missions, leaving only six left.  Maria Soledad was appointed as their Superior, and the Sisters that remained with Maria immediately removed her from this office.  The move so disorganized the community that the Bishop threatened to dissolve it.   The Bishop held an investigation, and re-appointed Maria as Superior, with the help of the new Director, Fr. Gabino Sanchez, an Augustinian.  It was at this time, their community took the name of “Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick”.  The Bishop formally approved their ministry and extended their work to care for the delinquents of Madrid.  Their order received much publicity by their care for the sick when the cholera epidemic broke out.  

St. Maria Soledad was the victim of slander, and removed from her office again.  Fr. Gabino again reinstalled her as the Superior after an investigation.  The Handmaids grew in number, and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana, Cuba.  The new institute received Papal approval in 1876.   Maria governed the community for 35 years.  

St. Maria Soledad was working in Havana, Cuba when she came down with pneumonia.  She died on October 11, 1887.  At the time of her death there were 46 Houses in Europe and Latin America.  She was buried in the Sisters cemetery, and in 1893 her body was exhumed and transferred to the Chapel.  Her body was intact, exuding a bloody liquid, her body exuding a sweet odor.  She was beatified in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.  In the United States, the Congregations is known as the Sister Servants of Mary, Ministers to the sick.  There are six communities in the US, still providing health care as of today.   

Practical Take Away

Sr. Maria Soledad is a saint because of her endless giving of self to others.  She started the Congregation Sister Servants of Mary, and fell victim to slander two separate times by her own Sisters.  Both times, she was investigated and reinstated as Superior.  She dedicated her life to caring for the poor, and died of pneumonia while serving the poor and sick of Havana, Cuba.  Her life shows us that by emptying ourselves and serving others, we too, can merit eternal life with Jesus in Heaven.