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Saint Maria Soledad
Saint Maria Soledad

Saint Maria Soledad

Feast Day
Oct 11, 2012
The Sick, The Poor
<p>St. Maria Soledad was born and baptized with the name Bibiana Antonia Acosta, in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 1826.&nbsp; She was the second of five children.&nbsp; Her parents ran a small business in Madrid.&nbsp; St. Maria Soledad was educated by the Daughters of Charity, and often visited the sick in her neighborhood.&nbsp; She performed small penances for the benefit of others. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Because of her poor health, she was unsuccessful in entering the Dominican community, as she desired to become a nun.&nbsp; 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.&nbsp; She accepted, and with six companions she began this ministry taking the name Maria Soledad. &nbsp;</p> <p>Five years into the ministry, Fr. Michael took six of the Sisters with him to the missions, leaving only six left.&nbsp; Maria Soledad was appointed as their Superior, and the Sisters that remained with Maria immediately removed her from this office.&nbsp; The move so disorganized the community that the Bishop threatened to dissolve it. &nbsp; The Bishop held an investigation, and re-appointed Maria as Superior, with the help of the new Director, Fr. Gabino Sanchez, an Augustinian.&nbsp; It was at this time, their community took the name of &ldquo;Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick&rdquo;.&nbsp; The Bishop formally approved their ministry and extended their work to care for the delinquents of Madrid.&nbsp; Their order received much publicity by their care for the sick when the cholera epidemic broke out. &nbsp;</p> <p>St. Maria Soledad was the victim of slander, and removed from her office again.&nbsp; Fr. Gabino again reinstalled her as the Superior after an investigation.&nbsp; The Handmaids grew in number, and in 1875 began a ministry in Havana, Cuba.&nbsp; The new institute received Papal approval in 1876. &nbsp; Maria governed the community for 35 years. &nbsp;</p> <p>St. Maria Soledad was working in Havana, Cuba when she came down with pneumonia.&nbsp; She died on October 11, 1887.&nbsp; At the time of her death there were 46 Houses in Europe and Latin America.&nbsp; She was buried in the Sisters cemetery, and in 1893 her body was exhumed and transferred to the Chapel.&nbsp; Her body was intact, exuding a bloody liquid, her body exuding a sweet odor.&nbsp; She was beatified in 1950 by Pope Pius XII, and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.&nbsp; In the United States, the Congregations is known as the Sister Servants of Mary, Ministers to the sick.&nbsp; There are six communities in the US, still providing health care as of today. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>Practical Take Away</strong></span></p> <p>Sr. Maria Soledad is a saint because of her endless giving of self to others.&nbsp; She started the Congregation Sister Servants of Mary, and fell victim to slander two separate times by her own Sisters.&nbsp; Both times, she was investigated and reinstated as Superior.&nbsp; She dedicated her life to caring for the poor, and died of pneumonia while serving the poor and sick of Havana, Cuba.&nbsp; Her life shows us that by emptying ourselves and serving others, we too, can merit eternal life with Jesus in Heaven. &nbsp;</p>