Saint of the day – 22 July – Blessed Manuela de Jesus Arias Espinosa (1904-1981) her religious name “María Inés Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament” – Sister and Founder of both the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1945) and the Missionaries of Christ for the Universal Church (1979), of which orders, she is the Patron. She is known as “Manuelita”. Born on 7 July 1904 in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico and died on 22 July 1981 in Rome, Italy of natural causes.
Manuela de Jesús Arias Espinosa was born in Mexico in 1904 as the fifth of eight children to the pious Eustaquio Arias Arroniz and María Espinosa López Portillo, she made her First Communion in 1911.
Her religious calling blossomed in 1924 after attending a religious congress in October 1924 and received inspiration after reading a life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux but her firm decision to enter the religious life did not come until the Feast of Christ the King in 1926.
She entered the “Ave Maria” convent in Los Angeles on 5 June 1929. Espinosa made her initial vows on 12 December 1930 and she made her perpetual vows on 14 December 1933 and lived the cloistered life in the religious name of “María Inés Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament”. Her time in the cloistered life lasted until 1949.
Maria founded – on 23 August 1945 – the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Cuernavaca in Morelos and received the papal decree of praise in 1949 and the full approval of Pope Pius XII on 22 June 1951, she received the affectionate name of “Manuelita”.
Her next and final order founded was titled the Missionaries of Christ for the Universal Church and was established on 23 November 1979 in Nievo León. On 9 December 1980 she had an audience with St Pope John Paul II in Rome.
In time, the nuns extended their evangelical activity to several countries of Asia and Africa, the US and several Latin American and European nations.
The Congregation of the Claretian Missionaries was further strengthened on 5 January 1953, when the Holy See authorised the formation of the Claretian Vanguards, a lay movement that has developed in step with the religious order.
The nuns are a Eucharistic, Marian and Missionary Congregation leading a contemplative-active life and adhering to the Divine Will, source of joy, with Jesus Christ as their centre.
They take the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and witness fraternal love “always in a spirit of understanding and service, lived in love and peace, charity being what stimulates them to live not for themselves but for all souls in need.”
By the time of her death in Rome in 1981, she was over-seeing 36 missionary houses in 14 countries.
Over six thousand of her spiritual writings still remain.
Mother Maria Inés Teresa of the Most Blessed Sacrament was beatified on Saturday 21 April in Mexico City by the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Card. Angelo Amato, who represented Pope Benedict XVI. The Beatification ceremony, was held in the main Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.