Cardinal says Spanish nun who died of TB exemplified generous care

By Catholic News Service
MADRID (CNS) — A Spanish nun who died of tuberculosis after spending her life caring for the sick exemplifies the "generous care and human closeness" needed today, said Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Cardinal Amato compared Sister Maria Catalina Irigoyen Echegaray (1848-1918), who worked in the Spanish capital as a member of the Servants of Mary, with the Good Samaritan.

"She saw in the ill and needy the face of the suffering Christ and enjoyed unceasing popularity among the infirm because of her deep-rooted faith in Christ," Cardinal Amato said Oct. 29 in his homily at her beatification Mass in Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral.

"Renouncing family goods and the benefits of social status, she consecrated herself to the suffering and was duly granted gifts by the Lord, such as physical fortitude and a capacity to work, cooperate and obey," always with humor, he added.

The cardinal said the nun’s faith had been "a divine reality at every moment of her existence," adding that it had been a "sign of providence" that she became acquainted with the order’s founder, St. Maria Soledad Torres Acosta, and felt called to become a member.

"It was humiliating and tiring work, which she experienced with love — walking the streets, going up and down staircases, caring for her companions, receiving charitable donations with gratitude," the cardinal told the Mass, which was concelebrated by Cardinals Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid and Antonio Canizares Llovera, Spanish prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, as well as by bishops and priests from all over Spain.

"At the present time, we badly need such gestures and examples of fidelity to the Gospel — today, more than ever," he said.

Born the youngest of eight children into a wealthy family in Pamplona, Blessed Catalina began visiting elderly and homeless patients in hospitals at age 13.

She set up a workshop to make clothing for the poor while working with Servants of Mary after the order opened its first house in Pamplona, and she entered its novitiate in December 1881, taking her final vows seven years later.

An archdiocesan biography said cholera, smallpox and influenza were rampant in Madrid at the time, often causing families to abandon sick relatives out of fear of infection.

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