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Pope Francis

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Isabel Mendez, a missionary even in sickness

2014-06-14

From an early age, Sr. Isabel Mendez decided she wanted to help the needy. This trait forever marked her life. 

She was born in Salamanca in Spain. At the age of 20, the young woman joined the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation dedicated to helping disadvantaged women earn a dignified living.

Isabel lived her life in a way that could have been easily overlooked. But her strength in fighting through tuberculosis made her stand out.

VICTORIA LOPEZ
Postulator, Sisters of St. Joseph
"Her fellow sisters would say, 'she was just like everyone else.' But, then with her sickness, they realized that she had something different. You don't find woman like that every day, so young and with such good values. She kept her serenity, and found joy in her sickness. Her father would say: 'I've always seen her happy. I've never seen here sad, at any point during her sickness.'”

Tuberculosis thwarted her desire to be a missionary, and to help women in other parts of the world. But, despite the pain and her physical deterioration, Isabel never lost her smile. Many people can attest to her determination, including her hospital chaplian.

VICTORIA LOPEZ
Postulator, Sisters of St. Joseph
"Father Antonio was the hospital chaplain at Los Montalvos and Isabel's confessor. When she died, he wrote to the mother superior and said: 'I congratulate you for having a saint. What Isabel lived through is the example of a person that follows God's will with enormous loyalty.'”

Isabel passed away in 1953, at the age of 29. Many people immediately recognized that her life had been special, and considered her a saint. As a result, the Sisters of St. Joseph opened her sainthood cause, which continues to this day. Even though she never became a missionary, she reached all corners of the globe, thanks to the testimony of her Sisters.

The Order hopes that Isabel will be raised to the altars soon. She would be the second saint from the Sisters of St. Joseph. Their founder, Mother Bonifacia, was canonized in 2011.


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