Blessed Josefa María of Beniganim, virgin

Mother Agnes, as she was to become best known, was born on 9th January 1625 in the small town of Beniganim near Valencia in Spain. She was christened Josephine Mary. The family was poor and Josephine’s father died when she was still a young child. When she was in her teens she entered the local Augustinian convent which belonged to the discalced observance of the Order that St John of Ribera had founded in his diocese of Valencia in 1597. Lacking the education and social background considered important at the time, Josephine became a lay sister and was given the name Josephine Mary of St Agnes. She was simple and humbly dedicated to the service of the community.

But there was something more. Josephine lived a deep spiritual life of prayer and contemplation which clearly brought her very close to God. This was not lost on the other sisters or indeed on the many lay people who came to the convent seeking her prayers and her guidance. Some twenty years after she entered the convent and in view of her obvious holiness and spiritual discernment Mother Agnes was accepted among the choir sisters of the same convent. Her life continued as before, both in her prayer and in her concern and humble service of all. We are told that there were frequent occasions when some of the most important people in the area would knock on the convent door and ask the prayers or advice of the uneducated but saintly Mother Agnes.

After more than fifty years in Religious Life she died on the feast day of her patroness St Agnes, January 21st 1694. She was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 26th January 1888 and her remains were preserved in the convent chapel in Beniganim till 1936, when they disappeared.