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Saint Teresa of Andes
Juanita Fernandez Solar was born at Santiago, Chile on July 13, 1900. From her adolescence she was devoted to Christ. She entered the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns at Los Andes on May 7, 1919, where she was given the name Teresa of Jesus. She died on April 12 of the following year after having made her religious profession. She was beatified by John Paul II on April 3, 1987, at Santiago, Chile, and proposed as a model for young people. She is the first Chilean and the first member of the Teresian Carmel in Latin America to be beatified. St. Teresa of the Andes was canonized on March 21, 1993 in St. Peter's Basilica.

“To lovingly offer ourselves to the father in order to accomplish his adorable will –– this I reckon is the plan of holiness.”

These are not the words of a theological scholar, doctor of the church or eminent clergyman, but of a 19-year old Carmelite novice, Teresa of Jesus. She was born Juana Fernández Solar in Santiago, Chile on July 13, 1900. Known as “Juanita” to her family, she was 6 when she knew that God was drawing her to him. She wrote later in her diary, “It was shortly after the 1906 earthquake that Jesus began to claim my heart for himself.” (“God the Joy of My Life, The Diary of Blessed Teresa of the Andes,” translated by Michael D. Griffin)

Juanita’s parents, Miguel Fernández and Lucia Solar, were members of the Chilean upper class. She grew up with three brothers and two sisters, her maternal grandfather and several uncles, aunts and cousins. She was educated in the college of the French Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Juanita developed a profound devotion to the Eucharist that became more intense after she made her first Communion at the age of 10. She was a naturally proud, self-centered and stubborn girl who was transformed by the Eucharist that gave her the mystical grace to lead a life of prayer. The holiness of her life was evident to friends and family and shined in all situations.
Editor Bernard Bangley (“Butler’s Lives of the Saints”) related that when Juanita was in her early teens, she read the “Story of a Soul” by Thérèse of Lisieux. She was so moved by this autobiography, she decided she wanted to become a Carmelite nun. She also read the biographies of Teresa of Avila and Elizabeth of the Trinity, which further increased her desire to join the Carmelites.
In May 1919 she entered the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in the township of Los Andes, some 90 kilometers from Santiago. The Carmelites there lived in extremely primitive conditions, Bangley reported. She took the name of Teresa of Jesus. Love, service and prayer dominated her religious thought. She felt fulfilled in the Carmelite way of life and knew it was what she was born to do.
A few months into her novitiate, her health began to deteriorate. Rosemary Ellen Guiley (“Encyclopedia of Saints”) wrote that by the following March she knew that she would soon die. She began to write letters sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. (“Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes,” translated by Michael D. Griffin)
Teresa contracted typhus on Good Friday, April 2, 1920. On April 7, because of danger of death, she made her religious profession. She died on April 12 as a Discalced Carmelite novice.

Her remains are venerated in the Sanctuary of Auco-Rinconada of Los Andes where an estimated 100,000 pilgrims visit each year. Pope John Paul II declared her Blessed on March 4, 1987 before a million people in Santiago. He canonized her in 1993.

St. Teresa of Jesus of Los Andes (Teresa de Jesús “de los Andes”) was the first Chilean to be declared a saint. She is the first Discalced Carmelite nun to become a saint outside the boundaries of Europe.

St. Teresa of the Andes is a role model for youth in the Catholic Church. Her life was the subject of a popular television miniseries produced in the early 1990s for the TVN Chile network. The actress Paulina Urrutia played Teresa in the miniseries and this became one of her most popular roles. It is reported that when the actress was recognized in the streets, people asked her to bless them.

St. Teresa of the Andes is the patroness of young people. Her feast day is April 12 and her attributes are a small cross and flowers.