Blessed Mary of St. Joseph Alvarado, virgin

Mother Maria of St. Joseph (Laura Alvarado Cardozo), was born in the picturesque little seaport village of Choroní, Aragua, Venezuela, on April 25, 1875, the oldest of four children.

Laura wanted to consecrate herself to God in a cloistered convent. Prevented by circumstances from fulfilling her dream, at the age of seventeen, with the permission of her confessor, she made a vow of perpetual virginity on December 8, 1892. From that time on, she made a spiritual retreat every year on the day of her consecration and on October 13, the anniversary of her baptism. Her only desire was for holiness: «I want to be a saint, but a real saint…. My Jesus, you and only you are the goal of all my striving».

The arrival of Fr. Vicente Lopez Aveledo in Maracay as pastor in 1892 was providential. A terrible epidemic had broken out in the city, leaving families in mourning and desolation. The pastor invited young Laura to help in the little hospital that had just been opened to attend to the victims of the epidemic. Laura responded enthusiastically, took up residence in the hospital, and dedicated her whole being to the care of the sick. Her labor was so efficacious that she was appointed administrator. She formed a little group of young women volunteers known as Samaritans.

On January 22, 1902, Laura ratified her vow of virginity, and on September 13 of the following year she pronounced her perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In her profession she changed her name to Maria of St. Joseph.

Mother Maria founded the first house for orphan girls in Maracay in 1905. Other foundations followed in rapid succession. Blessed Maria, who dedicated her long life to the care of the aged and of homeless children, in whom she saw the figure of Christ, has left to all of us the ever-timely challenge to welcome the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless with the same love with which she received them.

She died in Maracay, on April 2, 1967, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 7th May 1995 becoming the first Venezuelan to be beatified.

Document related: Biography of Blessed Mary of St. Joseph (PDF, 79 kb)