Venerable Teresa Quevedo was born on a Holy Saturday, April 14th, 1930, in Madrid Spain. The Quevedo family was a prominent wealthy family. Her dad was a well-known physician in Madrid, her mom a stay at home mom. Their house was actually right across from the Royal Palace. Teresita was the youngest of 3, she had an older brother Luis and an older sister, Carmen. Teresita lived a pretty comfortable life when she was little and was very stubborn and quick tempered. Her favorite comment at the table was “I don’t like it.” And the nickname her family gave to her was “venenita” (little venom). She never apologized for anything.
Both her mother and father had a deep faith. Every night, together as a family they would gather around a beautiful statue of the Immaculate and pray the rosary. Here is where Teresita’s love for Our Lady all started. The love for Mary in the Quevedo house was palpable and this love that Teresita soaked up from her surroundings began to grow more and more within her own heart. The rosary became Teresita’s favorite prayer. In fact, she loved it so much she went and taught it to her nurse and the family cook. She was only 5 years old!
During the Civil War in Spain her family had to leave Madrid for safety and lived for a time in Santander in the north of Spain. There Teresita met many poor children who would play in front of the house. After having met them she refused to go and play with them again. She was repulsed by their dirty hands and clothes and sometimes rude manners. She told her father this and he corrected her immediately, saying “Those children are poorer than the Baby Jesus and they pray to Jesus just like you do.” Teresita understood that she had to love them too. She realized she had to do something to change and started inviting the children over to her house. She taught them wash their hands and face, gave them hot chocolate and taught them how to use their napkin. She also started collecting toys and clothes to give to them, which was something that Teresita continued through high school. Slowly, Teresita was growing out of her nickname.
Whenever she would make a little sacrifice, like denying herself what she wanted, or eating something she didn’t like, she would tell it all to Mary and offer it to her as a little gift.
Another big event for the family also helped in this task. One of her uncles had died a martyr in the Civil War and left behind 7 children. All of them came to live with the Quevedo family. This sudden “growth” in the family helped Teresita learn to look out more for others’ needs than her own.
After the Civil War they moved back to Madrid and she started going to a school run by religious sisters. When she was 10 years old she begged them to let her do a week long silent retreat with the older girls preparing for their confirmation. On this retreat she wrote in her journal: “I have to become a saint.”
And her path to become a saint was Mary. She always saw that clearly. She couldn’t do anything without her good Mother. Mary became the secret of how she would love and please Jesus. She had a very tender love for Our Lady and started calling her, “My little Mother.”
When she was 13 she joined the Marian Sodality Movement. She made a total consecration to Mary, had daily prayer, tried to live her faith in her daily life and carry that faith to others. Each girl wore a metal of Our Lady with an inscription of their choice. The inscription Teresita chose was: “Mother, may all who see me, see you.” This was the consecration prayer she wrote:
“O sweet Virgin Mary, my Mother, I offer myself today completely to you. I beg you to give my body, eyes, ears and tongue, my heart and my soul to Jesus. I am all yours, Holy Mother of God. Watch over me! AMEN.”
When she was 15, on December 8th, feast of the Immaculate Conception, she wrote a note to Our Lady on a holy card: “Most Holy Mother, today I have solemnly promised to live holy and chaste forever. My only desire is to give you, Jesus and Mary, pure pleasure.”
Teresita had grown into a normal, fun, joyful, talented youth. She loved being with her friends, seeing movies (her favorite at the time was The Song of Bernadette) going to parties, sports, clothes, new cars and helping the poor. She was captain of the basketball team, and was voted ”Best Dressed”. But she always tried to find time to help others. Many times, at the end of her walks with her friends she would stop by the nursing home run by the Sisters to visit and console the elderly. And she continued collecting food, clothes and toys for poor children.
Teresita by this time already knew that God was asking her to be totally His. The topic of religious life was not an uncommon topic among her friends, and some of the girls from her high school had become sisters. One time a friend of hers said:
-“I want to enjoy my life first while I’m young and then later, after I’ve done everything I wanted to do, I’ll join the convent.”
Teresita was indignant. She quickly replied: “How selfish you are to give God the leftovers! Jesus has better taste than that! He wants the gift of youth with all its joys and dreams!”
Teresita finally entered as a Carmelite when she was 17 years old. She left everything behind, saying to her father, “None of that fills me.”
An excerpt from a letter Teresita wrote to her aunt Irene:
Every day I am happier. Our Lord has loved me so much! For this reason I want to be very generous and not deny Him anything that He asks of me. I tell Him a lot that I give myself totally to Him, but since I still don’t know how to do that well, that He has to be in charge of taking what He wants of me. And with Jesus and Mary I will do all the good that I can! Doesn’t that seem like a good plan?”
Here is what she wrote in her journal her first days as a postulant at the Mother House of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity.
Day 25- How wonderful, my Jesus, to sacrifice myself for you! Most Holy Virgin, help me to be good!
Day 26- I’m going to tell Sister Maria that if she sees something in me that she doesn’t like, that she shouldn’t hesitate in telling me, even if it’s something insignificant. I want to get rid of everything that Jesus doesn’t like. Isn’t it true, My Mother, that you will help me?
Day 27- The meditation today was precious even though I wasn’t very inspired, but I was tranquil because I do everything that I can and with the help of my Mother I’ll go doing it better.
Day 28- In the meditation about the humility of Mary I realized that I am not very humble, I have to tell the Mistress of Novices so that she can get to know me and so she can tell me what I should do. It’s the first day that I’ve washed the laundry and while I was doing it I remembered how Our Lady also would wash baby Jesus’ diapers and I united myself to her.
Day 29- I asked Our Lady to make me like Jesus wants me. I have come here to be a saint.
Day 2- Mother (the Mother Superior) called for me to talk to see how everything was going. I told her that I am doing great. I like it when she calls for me to talk. I like being with her a lot. I love this life more and more and I think about how peaceful I will be at the hour of my death.
Day 3- Mom, Dad, Carmen, Uncle Jose, and Grandma and Grandpa came to see me. They saw that I was doing great and they went home very happy. Carmen didn’t stop crying.
During recreation time I talked with Anita about Mary. How much I love her! But I have to show her by my works. The other day I said to Anita that in order for us to become holy we don’t have to do big things, it’s enough to do perfectly what we have to do in moment.
Day 4- I asked Saint Francis to he help Luis pass this school year and to help him be very good and love Our Lady a lot. And for myself I asked that I be like Saint Terese of Lisuex, because Jesus loved her so much.
Day 6- I don’t want one recreation time to go by without talking about Our Lady; like a good daughter I should be in love with my mother.
Day 7- Today was heavenly. We had a retreat and I wanted so much to take advantage of it and I hope that what I didn’t take advantage of Our Lady made up for it, and more than made up for it, because she knows HOW much I want to be very good.
No date- Mother called for me. We spoke about how prayer was going and I told her that it was so-so, and afterwards there have been some days that were pretty bad, but, My Mother, you who see everything, you know that I want to do my prayer well.
There’s days when I really don’t want to do anything. This Saturday it was my turn to sweep the “Ironing Room.” I offered it to Mary and at the same time I thanked her because it was hard for me. My Mother, I put myself in your arms, do with me whatever you want.
No date- I want to be very humble and I have to do whatever it takes to become it. My obligation for this week I did pretty poorly, but, My Jesus, forget about that and you’ll see how much I’m going to try harder next week. Dearest Mother, I trust in you.
Day 23- It’s been exactly a month since I’ve been here. My God, thank you! I want to really take advantage of everything so that I can correspond to this immense grace of the vocation.
No date- The Mistress of Novices recommended to me a lot that I don’t get too attached to anybody, that besides suffering a lot, it will take away love from God. No, my Jesus, don’t permit that. I want to be totally and only yours.
No date- Teresita was put in a group with a sister that she liked a lot, and with simplicity she told her Mistress of Novices. Afterwards she was put in a group with two sisters that she didn’t find as easy to be with, and she wrote the following: I hope that these 2 sisters help me to be better every day, each day more. I don’t want to waste any occasion to make a sacrifice. You already know, my Mother that you have to help me.
No date-If I want to sleep I have to stop thinking about Our Lady, especially during the siesta.
No date- Teresita asked her companions to tell her the defects they saw in her so she could correct them and she wrote them down in her notebook: I’m going to write them down so I don’t forget them and so I can remember them constantly so I can fix them, and with enthusiasm. Anita: that I talk too much about “my own things.” Clara: that I’m a little spontaneous. Julia: that I have to do things a little faster.
I talk a lot about myself. I like to tell the “latest news” and when something happens that I already knew about I let everyone know that I knew that already. I laugh pretty loud. I walk very straight and stiff. I laugh a lot. When I’m talking I start talking louder and louder and I end up shouting a lot.