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 published: 2004-10-08

He loved with the greatest love. All the way to the end!

Blessing of the image of Saint Teresa of the Andes in the Vatican

La estatua de Teresita de los Andes

The staute of Teresita de los Andes

Die Statue von Teresita de los Andes


En el taller del artista: P. Joaquín Alliende, P. Marcelo Aravena, Juan Fernández

In the artist's workshop: Fr. Joaquín Alliende, Fr. Marcelo Aravena, Juan Fernández

In der Werkstatt des Künstlers: P. Joaquín Alliende, P. Marcelo Aravena, Juan Fernández


Artista: Juan Fernandez

Artist: Juan Fernandez

Künstler: Juan Fernandez


Amor sin medida

Love without reserve

Vorbehaltlose Liebe


El artista regala rosas a Teresita

The artist offers roses to Teresita

Der Künstler schenkt Teresita Rosen


Pie de la estatua

Bottom of the statue

Fuß der Statue

Fotos: Aravena © 2004


Santuario de Teresita de los Andes

Shrine of Teresita de los Andes

Heiligtum von Teresita de los Andes

Foto: Cabral © 2004




ROME, Fr. Alberto Eronti. On October 6th, the Holy Father blessed the image of Teresita of the Andes, located in an exterior niche of the Saint Peter Basilica. This image was a piece of work from the Schoenstatt artist Juan Fernandez, Chilean like the honored saint.

October the 6th started with clear skies, the reddish sun was setting upon Rome, and the fall climate was really pleasant. With this setting I took off early in the morning to the Vatican to take part in the blessing of the image of Saint Teresa of the Andes. The image was placed in an exterior niche on the west wing of the Basilica of Saint Peter, overlooking the beautiful interior gardens.

The initiative to place an image of the Saint "in the heart of the Church", which coincidentally was expressed by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Chile and Cardinal Errazuris; was the idea of the Ambassador of Chile before the Holy See, Mr. Maximo Pacheco Gomez. It was not easy to make a place for Teresa, not because she did not deserve it, but because the policy of the Vatican Administration establishes that founder saints are the ones who occupy those places. Finally, with the aid of some members of the Congregation the approval was obtained.

Love without restrictions

The piece of work was ordered from the Chilean artist Juan Eduardo Fernandez Cox. The statute was made in white marble, with singular beauty and lightness. Teresa seems as if she is "going" out of the marble block that is diluted behind her. Her face, turned towards the heights is firmly looking at the "Loved one"; while her hands crossed over her chest are holding a cross, a sign of the "unconditional love". Her body, with Carmelite vestments, shows the transfiguration made by her love of God and Gods love of her. Her bare feet appear to be elevating "to heaven", the place of unconditional love.

On the stand, by her feet, there are two sculptured shields, one of John Paul II and one of Chile with a star in the center. The star is the sign of Mary for the Chilean Church, and for all those who identify with Christ, like Teresa, stars are seen to be guides for mankind.

Luminous light for the youth

Among the participants at the ceremony were four cardinals, five bishops, Chancellors from Chile and Italy, and a large group of pilgrims who came from Chile, Germany, Austria, Spain and England. There were also representatives of the businessman who sponsored their trip, so they could carry out, as they put it: "the best entrepreneurship" – plus many friends and sympathizers of the Chilean people. The first to speak was a Chancellor from Chile, who magnificently brought together what Juanita Fernandez, Teresa in her religious life, means for Chile and especially for the youth of Chile. The Chancellor remembered that our Holy Pope referred to her in 1993 as: "the luminous light for the youth" with motive of the canonization. Next to speak was Cardinal Francisco J. Errazuriz who talked about "the beautiful Mosaic that God slowly builds in His Church through the Saints. Teresita is a beautiful piece of that Mosaic…" Following that the Archpriest Cardinal of the Holy See and the Ambassador Pacheco Gomez offered their thoughts on the occasion. Lastly the sculptor spoke, he started saying that he "used" one part of his name: "del Carmen" for his work. He said this was not a job for him, but for days of prayer and contemplation. This was the only way that he knew he could mould the greatness of the spirit. He added, genial Expression! – He asked permission to Teresita to touch her body and to mould it as he went. Then, he said that the statue does not admit arguments, it only becomes. That is the nature of art.

The Pope’s blessing

While we awaited the arrival of the Pope we frequently heard hymns allusive to Teresita and to the Virgin of Del Carmen. We also had time to silently contemplate the statue. We saw the Holy Father’s jeep arriving at the indicated time. The Holy Pope was on his way to the General Audience. We welcomed him with applauses filled with warmth and love. The papal vehicle stopped in front of Teresa’s statue and the Pope’s chair was turned towards the Saint. In a very low tone he blessed and sprinkled holy water on the statue. Then, very briefly, he was greeted by some of the authorities present there, by Cardinal Errazuris, and of course he blessed with great love three children and their mothers. The "papal car" continued its way and we were left hypnotized, savoring the spiritual impact of what we experienced there. Afterwards there was a concelebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Holy See Crypt. Mass was presided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State. Everything ended with a reception in the Canonical Palace, in Saint Marta Square.

Youth who pilgrim to the Santa Teresita of the Andes Shrine

I retained a few impressions from this experience. These were expressed by the different speakers. Juanita Fernandez was absolute and beautifully natural. She was beautiful, happy, spiritual, sensitive to the needs of others, a good friend and sportswoman… She had it all! Like young people say. Yes, "she had it all", but she only sought the wholeness, the greatest love. Without looking down on the human, without minimizing the natural, she felt that the wings of her soul were looking for the infinite and she went for it. She chose this way of life when most youth at that age ask themselves about the meaning of their lives. Juanita found it fast and she followed the call with natural and radical inspiration. She was captivated and she let Jesus Christ captivate her. Like others before her, she gave herself to Him with undivided love and forever. Would it have been this love that let her "know" she would die soon? She was 19 years old when she died; one month before her death she had told her confessor "she would die very young". Love is ageless, and she was called to life at an age in which we all began to live.

Can a contemplative be a model for the youth? This is something we need to ask the youth who pilgrim to the Saint Teresa of the Andes Shrine. However, I can add what I heard before the radiant statute of Teresita: "It is not her contemplative option that makes her a model for the youth, but to have accepted to love with the greatest love and until the end. This is what we all want, and the youth more than anyone" So be it!

Translation: Vera Gamez, Austin, Texas, USA/ Therese Formosa, Sydney, Australia

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