Bl. Maria Crescencia Perez
Sister Maria Crescencia
Sister Maria Crescencia Perez is a Daughter of Our Lady of the Garden from Argentina who is in the process of canonization. She was declared Blessed in Pergamino, Buenos Aires, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.
Her tomb is constantly visited by numerous pilgrims from all over the country who come to venerate her remains, to ask for help, or to thank for favors. These are the facts God uses to communicate his message and tell us of his designs about Sister Maria Crescencia. Let’s pray for her canonization!
The Perez and the Rodriguez leave from the Spanish Galicia in a boat full of emigrants and full of hope heading to South America. But bitter unforeseen realities, often stop the distant enthusiasm. The immigrants often find themselves in the new world working from sunrise to sunset on their fertile plains, navigating the wide rivers, or settling in the periphery when they cannot settle in the city. But with their poverty of origin they carry the wealth of their Catholic traditions. This is the case with the Perez-Rodriguez who, despite adversity, do not despair. In Córdoba, Argentina, on a very hot day in mid-December 1889, Agustín Pérez marries Emma Rodriguez, before the altar of the “Virgen del Pilar.” Due to the hectic moments that Argentina lives at that time, which alternate conservative and liberal parties in the government, without any support, the young couple is forced to immigrate to Montevideo.
They are alone. In the Uruguayan capital his first son is born, who dies at three. Another child also dies at birth. Other two, Emilio and Antonio, survive. But in this country, the young couple does not find horizons of progress and decide to return to Argentina.
In San Martín, Buenos Aires, in the cold August of 1897, María Angélica is born. The conditions of the family improve, because the father, now thirty years old, finally gets a job in a German Electricity Company. Agustín, Aída, María Luisa, and José María complete the family. But the young mother becomes ill. Her doctor advices to move to a more temperate climate.
At dusk, the mother calms the restless children, puts them all on their knees to pray the Rosary. Day after day, she transmits the concept of faith almost unconsciously to her children. And so these children grow up, with that strong mother who teaches to respond with love to the love of God; by speaking of Him with full consciousness; to transform joys and sorrows in moments of grace. Maria Angelica studies at “Hogar de Jesus”, in Pergamino. She also receives a degree as a craft teacher from the same school.
Her religious vocation, which had been growing throughout all these years, takes a definite course when on December 31, 1915 she entered the Novitiate of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden, in Buenos Aires. She receives the holy habit and her religious name –Maria Crescencia- on September 2, 1918, in circumstances when her father, Don Agustín Pérez, dies.
Desiring nothing else than to please God with a holy life, she gives herself totally to her mission, becoming “All for All”, in perfect obedience and in unlimited charity. According to some witnesses, the outstanding virtue of Maria Crescencia is humility. This allows her to live the great demands of fraternal charity and of a perfect life together, with intimate and serene joy.
During the first years of her religious life, she teaches crafts and Catechesis, first in the Workshop School attached to the Provincial House and then in “Colegio del Huerto” in the Capital of Buenos Aires.
The second stage of her life is marked with sickness. She is assigned to serve at Mar del Plata Maritime Sanatorium (Solarium), a place dedicated exclusively to the hospitalization and care of children affected by bone tuberculosis. She stays there for three years.
As her frail health began to decline rapidly and seriously, her superiors decide to send her to a place where the weather would help her recover. They choose for it Vallenar, in the Republic of Chile, where the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden serve at the Hospital since 1915.
In spite of how much it costs her to leave her homeland, her family, and her community, Maria Crescencia clearly sees the will of God in the words of her Superior and gladly accepts what He asks of her. She says “For fulfilling the will of God I would go to the end of the world.” She lives in Vallenar totally dedicated to the service of the sick people, within the joy of community life and growing unceasingly in the love of God to whom she has consecrated her life.
In 1928, Sister María Crescencia visits Pergamino for the last time to say goodbye to her family forever. Shortly after, accompanied by the Provincial Superior, she travels to Chile, where she spends the last stage of her life.
Given the progress and severity of her illness, she is hospitalized for three months in a hospital near Vallenar, completely isolated to avoid infection. She spends the last weeks of her life in Vallenar, in her community, building the Sisters with her serenity and deep inner peace.
A Holy Death
God had reserved a very special grace for this moment. According to the chronicles, she receives in vision the visit of the Founder, San Antonio Gianelli. From the image of the painting of Our Lady of the Garden that was next to her bed, Mary blesses her and the Sisters. Baby Jesus makes a move to leave the arms of his Mother and Maria Crescencia extends hers to receive him.
With true piety she receives the Holy Viaticum, surrounded by her Superior and Sisters. While she prays the prayers of the dying with those present, she sits up and bowing deeply before the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, repeats the words that Jesus himself taught her: “Heart of Jesus, for the sufferings of your divine heart, have mercy on us”.
Then she breaks into a fervent prayer: “Heart of Jesus bless me and bless my Sisters, give them strength to fight with courage and seek the salvation of souls in these difficult times. Bless our Institute, from which I received so much good and in which, in these moments, I consider myself the happiest creature in the world. I ask you Most Holy Heart of Jesus that you send many and good vocations to our Institute, oh Heart of Jesus: I ask you a special blessing for Chile and since it is your will that I die here happy, I offer you this sacrifice for the peace and tranquility of this nation.”
It seems that the Heart of Jesus makes her see the prize that He had prepared for her, because she continues, “When, Lord, have I deserved that? What are the sufferings of this world compared to the happiness of heaven? I am more than a miserable creature, the smallest of all, I am less than a worm of the earth, where did I come from so much happiness? Heart of Jesus I do not deserve all that. Everything is the work of your heart, Jesus. I would like to love you as much as you love yourself.”
Her desire to join Jesus was vehement, so she exclaims “Do not stop me anymore … Do not stop me anymore … Yes, let all go to the Most Holy Heart of Jesus, there you will find the salvation of your soul”. Finally she says smiling, “Father … in your hands I entrust my spirit.” Thus she dies saintly, on May 20, 1932.
Shortly after her death, at “Colegio del Huerto” in Quillota, 600 km distant from Vallenar, the Sisters together perceive a fragrance similar to the perfume of violets, which remains several days within the walls of the school. Because of this inexplicable fact, the Superior says, “Sister Crescencia has died”. Immediately a telegram arrives announcing her death.
When the community left Vallenar, the population did not want them to take the body of what they called “La santita,” “The little saint.” That is why she remains there for 35 years. On November 8, 1966, the Congregation orders the transfer of her remains to Quillota. Provided with a small urn, they open the coffin to reduce her remains, but they found her body and her holy habit intact and in perfect preservation. The whole city of Vallenar gathers to verify this singular fact. The wake is performed again and then she is taken to Quillota where she rests for 17 years in the vault of the Sisters.
Process of Beatification
In 1983 her body is moved to the pantheon of the Sisters in Pergamino until July 26, 1986 when, on the occasion of the opening of the diocesan process for her beatification, it is transferred to the Chapel of Our Lady of the Garden School. On October 3, 1990, the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints opens the process in Rome.
Her tomb is constantly visited by numerous pilgrims from all over the country who come to venerate her remains, to ask for help, or to thank for favors. These are the facts God uses to communicate his message and tell us of his designs about Sister Maria Crescencia. In Pergamino, on Saturday, November 17, 2012, at 11 o’clock, she is beatified. Let’s pray for her canonization!
Father of Jesus and our Father,
through your Divine Spirit you make holiness flourish in your Church.
We give you thanks for Blessed María Crescencia Pérez
who loved you with simplicity.
Her example and intercession,
may serve to extend your Kingdom
and to increase vocations to the religious life.
We humbly implore you that through her intercession
we might be granted the grace for which we ask…
(Express your petition)
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
Heart of Jesus, by the sufferings of your Sacred Heart,
have mercy on us!