Blessed Maria Antonia Bandres - A Life lived totally for Jesus

  • Print

"My Desires for sanctity are great! Grant me Jesus, the spirit of the saints."

Bl. Antonia

     Maria Antonia Bandres Elosegui was born on March 6, 1898. She was the second of fifteen children of Don Ramon Bandres and his wife Dona Teresa. Two days after her birth, she received the Sacrament of Baptism.

 

     She had been extraordinarily gifted and with lovable disposition, she endeared herself to her parents, brothers and sisters, as well as to her teachers, the "Hijas de Jesus", and to her classmates. Her kindness and her childlike cheerfulness radiated towards all with whom she came in contact.

     Yet there were times when she suffered from severe interior trials which it seemed the Divine Master had from childhood prepared for her sanctification. From her earliest years, she used to recite this beautiful prayer to the Infant Jesus: "0 Little Child of Nazareth, teach me how to be silent and to obey." She was fervent in her devotion to Jesus whom she received for the first time on May 23, 1909. On that occasion she offered as a silent sacrifice to Jesus, the pain on an entire day of suffering from a nail which punctured her foot and later resulted in a sore. "Antoñita", she was asked, "why did you not tell us?" Her simple answer was: "I bore it for Jesus, Who for the first tire, entered my heart today". From this moment on, she felt an irrestible attraction for the Blessed Sacrament, an attraction which continued to grow throughout her entire life.

     A manifestation of this extraordinary devotion was shown when she discovered one day on the floor of the parish church what was probably a consecrated Host unintentionally dropped by the priest while distributing Holy Communion. On approaching the Host, the little girl, then only twelve years of age, seemed to hear Jesus saying to her: "Take Me to your sick sister." Kneeling down, she picked up the Host and took it to her sister who was sick in bed. In the most innocent fashion she brought to the mind of the sick child the story of the angels who had brought Holy Communion to Saint Stanislaus during his illness.

     Her love for the Blessed Virgin Mary was deeply sincere; She was also a model Sodalist. At the end of her years as a student, she made a retreat with a great generosity of spirit. This event led her to decide to follow Jesus. She entered the Novitiate of the Hijas de Jesus in Salamanca. She was just eighteen years old yet mature for her age. It was already becoming evident that here was a woman of heroic mold.

     Right from the Novitiate she savored the secrets of the Cross, so inseparably linked with every surrender to Jesus Christ. At her entrance she wrote: "I want to look with horror on that worldly maxim — to follow from afar, and to love by halves'." Faithful to her resolution to love Jesus entirely and to follow Him closely, she pronounced her vows in religion on the 31st of May, 1918. "I shall strive to consider myself and to act as though I were the servant of everyone else, full of imperfections and the meanest of all in virtue. I shall recall my promise to be a silent sufferer, alone with God. I came into the Religious life to be a saint, to suffer temptations, to bear humiliations and contradictions, to form Jesus in my soul by following His footsteps and being crucified with Him. None other in this world will claim my love. I shall be wholly His."

     She had a her delicate constitution, though spiritually strong, and before a year of her profession ended, she fell ill. She was already aware of her approaching end and spoke of it secretly to her sister Natalia: "Natalia, I shall soon die. I have offered my life to God for the conversion of X." Here she mentioned the name of a member of her family who at the time had fallen away from God and who later on was in fact converted. However, she still had three months of pain to endure, and she bore it with such a sweet and admirable cheerfulness. Her motto was: "What it worth doing, is worth doing well." One day she received a touching letter from her disconsolate mother. It drew from her this startling revelation of her interior life: "I am dying with great contentment. All my life, everything seemed difficult, arid, and cold: Jesus never showered His delights upon me. But now all is peace... I feel an intense joy... consolations overwhelm me. I feel that our Blessed Lady is at my side, that Jesus loves me, and I Him." Just a few minutes before she breathed her last, she folded her arms, cross like, over the tabernacle of her heart, holding in her embrace her Crucifix, her Rosary and a medal of our Lady, and in a voice that grew ever fainter, said:

"Show thyself a clement Mother... Thy blessings shower upon me. Take my soul; with you to heaven... Thine would I forever be."

     She died on April 27, 1919, at the feast of our Lady of Monserrat. Ever since that time, countless people have commended themselves to the intercession of Maria Antonia Bandres y Elosegui, and favors have been constantly granted through her intercession.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus Christ, our King, you have shown us through the life of Blessed Maria Antonia Bandres how much your Divine Heart is pleased by hidden sacrifices for souls and by a childlike devotion to your most holy Mother. We humbly ask you to glorify Your servant here upon earth, by granting the favor we ask through her intercession if this be for Your glory and for the good of our souls. Amen.

With ecclesiastical approval.

With a little Revision from an old brochure.