St. Teresa Margaret Redi
Virgin of our Order
Feast Day: 1 September
Who was Teresa Margaret Redi?
A brief biography
St. Teresa Margaret was born in 1747 in the Tuscan city
of Arezzo, Italy and baptised Anna Maria. She belonged to a noble
Italian family of the name "Redi". From early childhood she showed an
unusual desire to hear people speak of God. When she was nine, her
devout parents sent her to be educated with the Benedictine nuns at
Apollonia in Florence. She made her First Holy Communion at the age of
Anna Maria was sixteen (in September 1763), one of her childhood
friends from her home town entered the Carmelite monastery of St Teresa
in Florence. After saying farewell to her friend, Anna Maria felt
strangely uplifted and happy and suddenly heard a voice speaking to
her: "I am Teresa, and I want you to be one of my daughters". So, she
entered the Carmelite monastery at Florence on 1st September 1764 at
the age of 17.
religious name of Sr. Teresa Margaret, this young woman progressed
rapidly in her vocation through heroic charity towards others. She
sacrificed herself completely and unstintingly to the service of the
nuns in the community, a number of whom were elderly and bedridden.
With great maturity, she endured much abuse from one mentally disturbed
old nun under her care. Three years after her entrance to Carmel,
Sr Teresa Margaret received a special grace of contemplative insight
based on St John's phrase "God is love", and this led her to an even
deeper life of love and self-sacrifice.
Margaret died in Florence in 1770 and was beatified by Pope Pius XI in
1929. She was canonized also by Pope Pius XI on 19 March 1934. Her
body, which remains incorrupt to this day, rests in a glass shrine in
the Carmelite monastery church in Florence.
Quotes of St Teresa Margaret Redi
|I propose to have no other purpose in all my activities, either interior or
exterior, than the motive of love alone, by constantly asking myself: ‘Now what
am I doing in this action? Do I love God?’ If I should notice any obstacle to
pure love, I shall take myself in hand and recall that I must seek to return my
love for His love
|She who is silent everywhere finds peace
Lord, I shall be yours, whatever the cost,
despite all repugnance
||Always receive with equal contentment from God’s hand either consolations or
sufferings, peace or distress, health or illness. Ask nothing, refuse nothing,
but always be ready to do and to suffer anything that comes from His Providence
|I am resolved to give complete obedience in everything without exception,
not only to my superiors, but also to my equals and inferiors, so as to learn
from you, my God, who made yourself obedient in far more difficult circumstances
than those in which I find myself.
The Grace of "Deus caritas est" - God is love
One Sunday after Pentecost, on the 28th of June,
1767, when Sister Teresa Margaret was officiating in choir, she read out the
little chapter at Terce: “Deus caritas est.” She had heard these words
repeatedly, Sunday after Sunday, for the past three years, but now it seemed as
though she understood them for the first time - or rather, her understanding of
them was raised to an entirely different plane. The verse struck her with the
force of a revelation: “God is love; he who dwells in love dwells in God, and
God in him.” This dwelling had been the goal of all her striving, seeking as she
did to imitate the interior life and hidden operations of Christ. From that day
onwards the necessity of proving her love by deeds became so compelling a force
that it was obvious to her sisters that some special grace had been given her.
“Nobody comes to the Father except through Jesus,” she said. “To come to God who
is everything and consequently all good, no fatigue must seem to us too great;
we must not be put off either by the difficulties we meet on the way, but accept
bitterness and welcome every kind of cross with eagerness. By these means, which
are precisely those of Jesus Christ, it is not difficult to come to the true
God, to live in charity, to walk in love.”
Despite her customary
reticence and assiduity in concealing any graces or spiritual favors, the fact
that something out of the ordinary had taken place on that Sunday morning was
apparent to all. For days the young nun seemed quite out of herself, and the
sudden illumination that the words had sent flooding into her soul is difficult
to explain, because of the seeming triviality of the incident and her own
habitual silence about such things. It marked the beginning of a new stage in
her spiritual life, as Father Ildefonse was quick to observe. From this time, he
noticed that the quiet, self-possessed and reserved sister appeared to withdraw
even more into herself, becoming engrossed in a silent, determined, and
conscious awareness of the presence within her, and her endeavors to attain to
perfect union with Him. However, this withdrawal was a purely spiritual matter,
and there was no suggestion of cutting herself adrift from the community, for
she continued to give herself wholeheartedly to all, in her services as
infirmarian, in companionship and sympathy at recreation, and in never avoiding
her share of work on the grounds of seeking more solitude.
Father Ildefonse one day, she tried to express to him something of the
significance those words "God is Love" now held for her, but she became almost
incoherent in her emotion. “Just as the soul in the state of grace (which is
charity) is in God, God is in her. Just as the soul lives the life of God, so
does God in a certain way live IN her. And so it is that between them there is
but a single life, a single love ... God alone! The difference is that God has
all by essence, whereas the creature has it only by participation and grace.”
And, adds Father Ildefonse, “Note that these words came from a simple child who
had never studied and knew no theology apart from what her instinct taught
Ildephonse reflecting on her death remarked “she could not have lived very much
longer so great was the strength of the love of God in her”.
St Teresa Margaret's message for the 21st Century
Adapted from the Acts of the Canonization of St Teresa Margaret
In January 2006, Pope Benedict released his first encyclical letter to
the world. It has the title "Deus Caritas Est" - God is love. He said: "I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us
and which we in turn must share with others...."
In today's world where the name of God is sometimes associated with
vengeance or even a duty of hatred and violence, this message is both
timely and significant. It is also a message of comfort and hope for a
weary world, where natural disasters, wars and conflicts, poverty,
famine and economic difficulties are ever more in the news. And yet,
this message of the Pope is not new - it echoes the special grace that
St Teresa Margaret received during her short life. Her example shows us
how to live out of this conviction that God is love.
St Teresa Margaret found rest in God alone. Her purity of heart and her
lowliness of spirit brought her to a high degree of charity. She could
hardly speak of God without her face becoming suffused with joy. Her
love of God went hand in hand with a deep love for her neighbour and
especially for sinners, for whom she offered herself unreservedly to
God. Her unassuming kindness and complete self-denial for the sake of
her sisters, especially the sick, were such that she was regared as an
angel of charity.
What was the source of her great love? Teresa Margaret had great
devotion to the Eucharist, and looked forward with longing to her Holy
Communions. She was also especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of
Jesus and to Our Lady whom she regarded as her model and protector.
Teresa Margaret also reflected daily on the glories of eternal life and
she spent much time in contemplative prayer.
Despite great suffering towards the end of her life, Teresa Margaret
remained full of fervent love. This martyrdom of the heart won for her
and for others many benefits, and spurred her on to even greater love.
Her example shows us what is needed in the world today - souls to
imitate her example in loving God and others. Pope
Benedict's encyclical has been simply a reminder to us to look to
saints like Teresa Margaret for support and inspiration: "The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and
women of faith, hope and love..."
Wikipedia listing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Teresa_Margaret_of_the_Sacred_Heart
Prayer for the Intercession
of St Teresa Margaret Redi
you enabled Saint Teresa Margaret
to draw untold resources of
humility and charity from the fountain-head, our
prayers may we never be separated from
the love of Christ.
Grant this through Christ, our
Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est":
text on this page has been taken from the Carmelite liturgy for St
Teresa Margaret, various internet sources and also from the "Calendar
Carmelite Saints" published by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore