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Saint Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars

Saint Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars
  • Century: 19th Century
  • Patronage: The Poor, The Abandoned and Aged
  • Feast Day: August 26th

Teresa Jornet Ibars was the born January 9th, 1843 in the Catalan region of Spain.  She was the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Aged, better known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.  This is not to be confused with the Congregation also called this founded by St. Jeanne Jugan.

From a young age, Teresa had a strong concern for the poor, often bringing them to the home of an aunt, where they were sure to receive assistance.  Later she moved to Lerida, and lived with another aunt as she pursued her education.  She became a teacher in Barcelona.  During this time, she felt drawn to the monastic life and applied for admission to the Poor Clares, but she was not accepted.  For this reason she devoted herself to her teaching and became a Carmelite tertiary to help in the development of her Spiritual life.  She was encouraged by her Spiritual Director to undertake caring for the many elderly people of the area who were living alone and in poverty.  She accepted this challenge. 

In 1872, she opened the first house in Barbastro.  Her sister Maria helped her, and the following year the small group took the habit and became a religious Congregation.  Since Teresa had previously been with the Carmelite Order, she took the name of their great foundress, Teresa of Jesus.  She was elected the first superior of the new community. They were totally dedicated to the care of the aged.   Mother Teresa of Jesus taught her Sisters to sacrifice their own personal comforts for that of the men and women that they cared for.  In addition for her intense commitment, she was noted for her overwhelming peace, and that drew in many young women to join her. 

An outbreak of cholera hit Spain in 1897, and she joined the other members of the Congregation in their care of the victims of this plague.  By the time it ended, 24 Sister, and seventy of their patients had died from the disease.  She was physically overwhelmed and retired to the house in Liria.  This is where she died, on August 26, 1897.  At the time of her death, her Congregation had fifty houses.  She was beatified in 1958 by Pope Pius XII, and canonized in 1974 by Pope Paul VI. 

Practical Take Away

The life of St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars shows us that one person can make a difference, as well as many other things.  The fact that she had fifty houses, all caring for the sick at the time of her death, was all made possible because she said “yes” to Jesus.  She had a desire to help the poor and abandoned, and helped them one by one, by taking them to her aunt’s house.  This little act of compassion would grow into a Congregation of fifty houses in her life’s time.  If we call upon her intercession, we can get her help, and we can make a difference in the lives of others as well.  We are all called to be saints, lets not miss our opportunity.