Saint Beatriz de Silva
The founder of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known like Concepcionistas Franciscanas, was Santa Beatriz de Silva. But, who was this woman who, by inspiration of the same Virgin Maria, gave life to a religious family, entrusting only in a promise like Abraham? Do have Beatriz de Silva, who lived five centuries ago, a message for the man and the present society? Let us see.
According to the most ancient biographical news wich we enjoyed, provided by Sister Juana San Miguel, who formed part of the first community of the Order of the Immaculate Conception. Beatriz de Silva and Meneses was born in Campo Mayor, a small Portuguese village of rural atmosphere, probably towards first half of the 15th century.
Beatriz de Silva was daughter of Rui Gómes da Silva, Mayor of Campo Mayor and advisory of the king D. Duarte, and of Dª Isabel de Meneses who was related with the real houses of Spain and Portugal.
Beatriz grows in a family of deep Christian roots. The marriage da Silva had eleven children, educated with love and with clarified prudence. “By the fruits they will know you”, in addition to Saint Beatriz, it appeared between the children of this beautiful marriage, the devout Amadeo de Silva, that embraced in Italy the Franciscana Order and gave origin to a new branch of minor friars, the one of the reformers, known with the name of Amadeists.
Being Beatriz maiden is transferred to the court of Queen Isabel, daughter of Juan, prince of Portugal, when marrying this one with Juan II, king of Castile. She remains in the court as lady of the queen.
Being very beautiful, as affirm all the biographers, Beatriz was surpassing all other ladies in grace and sweetness. Her physical beauty was attracting the looks of all, and her nobility of spirit woke up the admiration of those who were treating her. She was desired in marriage by many of the court. The same queen Isabel saw in Beatriz a dangerous rival, reason why, by jealousies and with wild passion, she made to enclose her in a coffer, where they had her for three days.
But, being Beatriz in this suffering, she entrusted herself with the whole heart to the glorious Virgin Mary, who appeared to her dressed in white habit and blue mantle and the child Jesus in her arms; and, after encouraging her and to comfort her fondly, she entrusted her the foundation of an Order dedicated to the honor of the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, dressing the nuns the same white and blue habit as she was slipped into. Beatriz offered for her slave and dedicated her virginity and requested her trusting that she will free her of that prison. What the great celestial Queen fulfills.
After three days Beatriz went out of her prison as if no thing of pain had happened.
Beatriz of Silva abandons the royal court and enters, as secular, in the monastery of Saint Domingo el Real.
Beatriz was in this retirement for thirty years, during which she remained with the face covered always with a white veil, not only as penance but, especially, as a sign of her total consecration to God. She was waiting this way the time of being able to carry out the mission entrusted by the Immaculate Virgin.
In the year 1884, Beatriz left the monastery of Santo Domingo and went on, with some companions, to a house called the Palaces of Galiana, close to the north wall of Toledo, which were donated to her by the Queen Isabel the Catholic. The Queen donated also, the attached chapel, dedicated to Santa Fe, saint of French origin.
For five years Beatriz and her companions lived without professing in any religious order neither under any rule approved by the Church, until, finally, on April 30, 1489, the Pope Inocencio VIII, by request of the same Beatriz and of the Queen Isabel, approved the Order of the Immaculate Conception.
Nevertheless, before, in conformity with the pontifical permission, she initiated the regular life in the new monastery, Beatriz rose to the skies. However, the monastery did not disappear and, in spite of any difficulties, in fidelity to the spirit of Saint Beatriz, with the perseverance of the companions of foundation and the support of the Franciscan Order, continued her growth and turned into a real religious Order and obtained its own Rule on September 15, 1511.
On July 28, 1926, the Pope Pious XI confirmed the immemorial worship paid to Beatriz as to Over-pious woman, with what she could receive public worship. Resumed the cause of canonization in 1950 for Pious XII, Paul VII canonized her solemnly on October 3, 1976. her liturgical holiday is celebrated on August 17.
BEATRIZ, A MESSAGE FOR THE MAN AND THE CURRENT SOCIETY
In the homily of canonization the Pope Paul VI, was making reference to the message that “approaches saint Beatriz to our experience, and that allows us to understand all the current importance of the testimony that she presents us.” This happened in 1976, nevertheless, it continues being valid today, in this third millennium.
On order describe some of the characteristics of the society in which we live nowadays, we can appropriate the words that the P. Paul VI said: “We live in a permissive society, which seems not to recognize any border. The result is to the sight of all: the expansion of the vice in name of a misunderstood freedom, that, ignoring the indignant shout of the straight consciences, jokes and infringes on the values of the honesty, of the modesty, of the dignity, of the right of the others, that is to say, the values on which any tidy civil coexistence is based.” The court society of the period of the renaissance, as it is described in the chronicles of the epoch, present very frequently, though with remarkable exceptions, a panorama in which some sad experiences of today are reflected. It was the atmosphere in which Saint Beatriz matured her option. She realized soon of “the passions that her exceptional beauty was provoking” and decided to leave the court and to take her way, the one of the total consecration to God. Beatriz also decided that neither no man nor woman should see her face again, by which she covered the same one with a veil during the rest of her earthly life.
“Exaggeration? – it continues P. Paul VI saying –The Saints represent always a provocation for the conformity of our customs, considered wise simply because these turn out to be comfortable to us. The radicalism of her testimony wants to be a jolt for our laziness and an invitation to the rediscovery of some forgotten value; the value, for example, of the chastity like courageous self-control of the instincts and God’s joyful experience, in the limpid transparency of the spirit. Is not this one perhaps a lesson of the maximum current importance for the today men?
Beatriz, also today teaches us, accustomed to the spectacle and to the magnificent thing, that the most valuable thing is not what more it dazzles to the human eyes, and that the big works develop, habitually, in the middle of a humble, simple, discreetly silent existence, frame specially wanted by God to become present and to reveal his more intimate secrets.
Beatriz teaches us the patient wait of the fulfillment of a promise: “you will be a fecund mother of many daughters.” She waited for thirty years to that the opportune moment will come to carry out the foundation of the order. In this time she did not lose hope, neither lost the faith nor the illusion. She wait patiently, entrusted in a word. Today the standards of living measure up in immediate benefits, in the effective and efficient yield. We want to see rapid the fruit of our work and effort, lose heart if something goes badly or does not go out when we want. We have to learn the wisdom of the patient and trusting wait.
Finally, Beatriz brings a word to us, ” the most important word, because in it there is enclosed the secret of her spiritual experience and the one of her holiness “. This word is: Maria. More concretely Immaculate Maria. Saint Beatriz, puts before our eyes to Immaculate Maria and invites us to follow Christ with the same attitudes of the Full of Grace: in continuous hatred with the sin, choosing always the way that takes to the life, in permanent attitude of faith, supported the existence by the hope and directed to the eternal realities, in continuous praise and gratitude. This legacy left to her daughters, disposing it be the distinctive characteristic of the Order founded by her.
“This one is a valid message also for us, – returns to say Paul VI–makers of a progress that exalts us and scares us at the same time for its intrinsic ambiguity, since we are carriers of the most noble aspirations and at the same time we are submitted to humiliating weaknesses; for us, modern men ” tormented between the hope and the distress ” (Gaudium et spes, 4). How not to feel Maria’s fascination, whom ” with her mother charity worries for the brothers of her Son, that they still peregrinate and are put in the middle of dangers and distresses ” (Lumen gentium, 62), How not to feel the need to extend to Her our hands, uncertain most of times and disturbed, in order thatthat She) guarantees us and leads by the safe ways that take to Her Son?
This one is the invitation that, as synthesis of all her spiritual experience, Saint Beatriz directs to us today: to look at Immaculate Maria, to follow her example, to invoke her protection, because in the provident plan of salvation ” The Mother of Jesus …she shines in this world … before the pilgrim People of God, as sign of sure hope and of consolation, until the day of the Lord comes ” (Cf. 2 Faith 3,10; Lumen gentium, 68 ”