Rosal Vásquez, María Vicente, Bl.

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Baptized Vicenta, known in religion as María Encarnación del Corazón Jesús (Mary of the Incarnation of the Heart of Jesus); reformer of the Institute of Bethlehemite Sisters; b. Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Oct. 26, 1820; d. near Tulcán, Ecuador, Aug. 24, 1886. Vicenta recognized her religious vocation at age fifteen, as she reflected on the mystery of the Incarnation. On Jan. 1, 1837, she entered the bethlehemites, founded by Pedro de San José betancur (1670). Distressed by the laxity of the Beatario de Belemwhich drifted from its original charismVicenta (now Sister María Encarnación) migrated to the convent of the Catalinas. Finding that convent also unsatisfactory she returned to Belem resolved to reform it. She had her opportunity when she was elected prioress in 1855. She revised the constitutions; the older sisters, however, refused to accept them. After her continued attempts at disciplinary reform were resisted, she founded a new beatario in Quetzaltenango (1861). Her devotion to the Sacred Heart led to the tradition within the order of dedicating the twenty-fifth of each month to prayers of reparation. The Bethlehemites are now active in Africa, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Italy, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela.

While endeavoring to reform her congregation, Mother María Encarnación founded two schools in Quetzaltenango (1855). When Justo Rufino Barrios expelled various religious orders from the country (187385), she continued her work of reformation of the order and evangelization abroad. Arriving in Costa Rica in 1877, María Encarnación established the first women's college in Cartago, about fourteen miles from San José. She was a refuge again in 1884 when the Costa Rican government unleashed a persecution against religious groups, but returned to found an orphanage in San José (1886). She continued to Pasto, Colombia, to start a home for abandoned children. Untiring in her travels, she established the Bethlehemites in Tulcán and Otavalo, Ecuador.

On a trip from Tulcán to Otavalo, Mother María Encarnación fell from her horse and died. Her incorrupt body was translated to Pasto, where it is enshrined. After her cause for beatification was introduced, April 23, 1976, María Encarnación was declared venerable on April 6, 1995. On Dec. 17, 1996, the decree was signed approving a miracle attributed to her intercession. When she was raised to the altars by John Paul II on May 4, 1997, Mother María Encarnación became the Guatemalan beata.

Feast: April 18.

Bibliography: L'Osservatore Romano. 18 (1997): 23, 21 (1997): 4. Acta Apostolicae Sedis 12 (1997): 599.

[k. i. rabenstein]

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Rosal Vásquez, María Vicente, Bl.

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