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Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart

Saint Teresa Margaret was born as Anna Maria Redi on July 15th, 1747 in the town of Arezzo (At the time part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany). When she turned 9, her parents enrolled her at the boarding school run by the Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Saint Apollonia in Florence where she did well academically. As she came close to graduation, she began to seriously contemplate what her life should look like next. One day an alumna of the school had returned to say goodbyes to her former students and speak to the current students. She was preparing to enter the community of Disclaced Carmelites in the town. Saint Teresa was extremely moved by this woman who was just abounding in joy and was incredibly enthusiastic about joining the Carmelites. As she prayed and thought over the encounter, she began to believe she had been given a message from Teresa of Avila, foundress of the order.

Saint Teresa returned hom in April of 1764 and began testing herself to ensure she could handle the strict discipline and rigurous life the nuns lived in the order. After a period of testing herself and teaching herself strict self discipline, she submitted her request to join the assembled Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of Saint Teresa in Florence on September 1, 1764. She was admitted just two months later in November and was given the religous habit on March 11 of 1764. She took the religous name of Teresa Margaret Marianne of the Sacred Heart and professed her vows on March 12th, 1766.

She was first assigned to the office of infirmarian for the community, a role she took on with love and enthusiasm. She found particular joy and love while reaching the deaf and mentally handicapped nuns of the order. She could often be found repeating the words from 1 John 4:8 -

God is love

As a terrible epidemic swept through the monastic community in 1770, Saint Teresa worked tirelessly to care for the nuns falling ill. At 22, she confided in a fellow nun that she had experienced a premonition of her coming death. On March 6, while eating her meal alone in the refectory, she was gripped by a sudden attack of pain similar to colic. She laid helplessly in pain until the morning where she was able to make it back into her room and summoned aid. As the pain continued to get worse, she refused treatment from her fellow nuns as she did not wish to burden them. After her Last Rites that afternoon, she lost the ability to speak followed by the inability to even move. She died the evening of March 7, 1770. Modern doctors believe the death was due to a strangulated hernia.

Saint Teresa Margaret's body was extremely swollen and disfigured following her death, leaving the nuns in anxiety about displaying her body in an open casket. Two days after her death, while the body was being transferred to the Church, the nuns were stunned to find that Saint Teresa's body had reversed the disfigurement and now appeared completely lifelike. The Prior Provincial of the Discalced Carmelite friars permitted a postponement of the funeral for 15 days. During this postponement, the Archbishop of Florence, several priests and doctors, and laity of the city came to see her body and the miracle that had occurred. All who saw it testified that the body had no signs of decay and she appeared that she was simply sleeping and her natural color had fully returned.

Her incorrupt body still rests inside the Carmelite church. Saint Teresa Margaret was formally canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI on march 19th, 1934 and her feast day is now set for September 1st.

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