Beata Madre María de San José
La Madre María de San José was born on April 25, 1875. Her parents, Clemente and Margarita Alvarado named her Laura. She was their first daughter. Her father did not believe in the doctrines for the Catholic Church, but he was very respectful of his wife and his daughter and their beliefs. Laura had a younger brother and a younger sister and an older half-brother. When Laura was three years old, the family moved from Choroní to Maracay. Laura's parents were able to send her to school, and she enjoyed her studies very much.
In 1893, Laura was 18 years old and Father Vicente Lopez Aveledo came to Maracay to found the city's first hospital, the Hospital of San Jose. Laura joined the group of "Samaritans," dedicated to supporting the hospital. Laura worked very hard in the hospital. She spent many long hours caring for very sick people. Her dedication was extraordinary.
In 1901, Laura was 26 years old. Under the direction of Father Lopez, Laura founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor Men of Saint Augustine. Laura became Madre María. For the next 60 years, Madre María traveled throughout Venezuela establishing hospitals.
In 1960, Madre María was 85 years old. She retired as the leader of the order. In 1963, she suffered a stroke and in 1967 she died from bronchitis.
In 1995, 28 years after her death, Pope John Paul II officially declared her to be a beatified saint of the church. A beatified saint is different from a canonized saint in that a beatified saint is "proposed as a Christian model for the imitation and veneration of other Christians - of a particular religious order, or of a particular nation or diocese." The canonized Saint is proposed to the entire Church for imitation and veneration."1