Bl. Margarita Maturana
Memorial: July 24
Foundress of the Mercedarian Missionary Sisters of Berriz
Bl. Margarita was born in Bilbao on July 25, 1884. She was baptized with the name Pilar. Throughout her life she had a very intensely affectionate and spiritual relationship with her twin sister, Leonor, who would also become a sister with the Carmelites of Charity (and who also lead a life of heroic witness, being declared venerable by Pope St. John Paul II in 1993). In 1903, she entered the convent of cloistered Mercedarian Nuns in Berriz, taking the name Margarita Maria. She distinguished herself for more than 30 years as a teacher.
In this life of constant, faithful prayer, in her intimacy with the Lord, and in her charity, she found her Mercedarian vocation of redeeming captives expanded and reached wider horizons. She had an ever deeper desire to make the happiness that she enjoyed in communing with God reach the entire world, together with the love for Jesus Christ that she felt growing more and more within her. On May 5, 1912, she wrote: "I desire nothing more than to make Him known to those whom He has entrusted to me, which is the entire world."
Those words were the fruit of years of missionary awakening in Spain. In her boarding school she started, in 1920, the Mercedarian Missionary Youth of Bérriz, through which she formed several generations of young girls in the missionary spirit who later, as religious or as wives, were able to live out the missionary ideal wherever God was calling them. She corresponded with the Blessed Mercedarian Martyr Manuel Sancho Aquilar, who wrote a biography, Mother Margarita Maturana, Angel of Charity.
It was Bl. Margarita's desire to form an institute of Mercedarian Missionary Sisters of Bérriz, which could bring the good news of Redemption and liberation to the ends of the world, living out the fourth redemptive vow to remain in the mission even when their might be the danger of loss of life. And to this institute, she left as an inheritance a rich spirituality, which reached its height in the final years of her life, in a contemplative, joyful experience of Christ the Redeemer. Because of her great love and desire that Jesus might be known among all the peoples of the world, her love for Mary and for the Church, with great apostolic zeal and support from her entire community, on May 23, 1930, the in institute of the Mercedarian Missionary Sisters of Bérriz was approved.
She died on July 23, 1934. She was beatified in Bilbao on October 22, 2006.