Menéndez, Josefa, Sister

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Mystic and Religious of the Sacred Heart; b. Madrid, Feb. 4, 1890; d. Poitiers, Dec. 29, 1923. Sister Josefa, of humble parentage, made a promise of virginity on the day of her First Communion. At the School of Arts and Crafts in Madrid, she became a skilled needlewoman, and when her father became an invalid, she supported the family by dressmaking. Her attempts to become a Religious of the Sacred Heart, to which society she had long felt drawn, were thwarted several times; however, in 1910 she was accepted by Les Feuillants, a house of the society in Poitiers.

She led an obscure life there, working in the kitchen and linen room. Lack of knowledge of French made communication with others difficult, but she was a cheerful, deft, and untiring worker eager to help anyone. On July 16, 1922, she made her first vows and returned to her simple tasks. With the exception of a month spent at Marmoutiers and another short period in Rome, she spent the remaining 18 months of her life at Poitiers. After a short illness, she made her final profession on the day she was anointed.

Soon after Josefa's death, the depth of her inner life and the fact of her visionary communication with the Sacred Heart came to light. Diabolic temptations had alternated with frequent visits from the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Madeleine Sophie. She had been ordered to take notes and to submit them to her superiors. On her vow day in 1922, Christ had appeared to her "divinely beautiful, His heart flooded with light."

Her "message" was published posthumously, first partially [Un appel à l'amour. Soeur Josefa Menéndez (Toulouse 1938)], and then in its entirety [Le message du Coeur de Jésus au monde et sa messagère soeur Josefa Menéndez (Toulouse 1944)]. The burden of the message was that she should forget herself so that she might be the apostle of God's goodness and remind souls that the hour of justice had not yet approached and mercy might still prevail. Fidelity, sacrifice, suffering, and prayer are its keynotes.

Bibliography: j. menÉndez, The Way of Divine Love (rev. ed. Westminster, Md. 1957).

[j. verbillion]

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Menéndez, Josefa, Sister

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