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Torres Acosta, María Soledad, St.


Baptized Bibiana Antonia Manuela, foundress of the Sisters servants of mary; b. Madrid, Spain, Dec. 2, 1826; d. there, Oct. 11, 1887. Bibiana was educated by the Daughters of Charity. Prevented from entering a Dominican community because of delicate health, she was attracted to a project of Don Miguel Martínez Sanz, pastor in Chamberi (Madrid), to provide home care for the sick poor. With six companions she founded the Sisters Servants of Mary on Aug. 15, 1851, and assumed in religion the name María Soledad. The dedication of this small group was quickly proved during a cholera epidemic in Madrid. The early years of the institute were most difficult because of a significant number of defections from the congregation, the government's refusal to recognize the foundress's rule, and the loss of Don Martínez as spiritual director. María Soledad was subjected to grave slanders and deposed as superior general. The community was near extinction when the new spiritual director, Don Gabino Sanchez, had the foundress reinstated. Stability finally came to the new institute, which received the Holy See's definitive approval in 1876. By 1881 there were sisters in Cuba; and by 1887, when the foundress died, there were 47 houses in Europe and Latin America. María Soledad was beatified on Feb. 5, 1950, and canonized Jan. 25, 1970.

Feast: Oct. 11.

Bibliography: j. a. zugasti, La madre María Soledad Torres Acosta y el Instituto de las Siervas de María, 2 v. (Madrid 1916). p. alvarez, Santa María Soledad Torres Acosta (Rome 1969). e. federici, Santa María Soledad Torres Acosta (2d ed. Rome 1969). j. m. javierre, Soledad de los Enfermos: Soledad Torres Acosta (Madrid 1970). p. panedas galindo, Con María junto a la cruz: Santa María Soledad y las Siervas de María, su espiritu (Madrid 1984). g. prado, Madre Soledad (Madrid 1953).

[i. bastarrika]

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