VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II blessed a statue of St. Teresa of the Andes, which was placed in the rear facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Today’s ceremony was attended by the new Chilean Foreign Minister, Ignacio Walker, as well as representatives of the Chilean government and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, president of the Chilean episcopal conference and of the Latin American bishops’ council.
Before arriving at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope was driven to the image in an open vehicle from which he imparted his blessing.
The statue, which is almost 6 meters high and weighs several tons, has been christened “The Enamored One” by sculptor Juan Eduardo Fernández Cox, 65, grandnephew of the saint, who took almost two years to sculpt it in Carrara marble.
The Pope spent a few moments in prayer before the statue, in the presence of some 100 people, whom he later greeted.
After the ceremony, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state and former apostolic nuncio in Chile, presided over a thanksgiving Mass at the Altar of Confession in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Teresa of Jesus of the Andes (1900-1920), a Discalced Carmelite who had been christened Juanita Fernández Solar, was born in Santiago on July 13, 1900. She died of typhus on April 12, 1920.
Canonized on March 21, 1993, she was described in Holy See’s biography as “jovial, happy, likable, attractive, sporting, communicative.”
Teresa of the Andes is the first Latin American woman saint to have a statue outside the largest temple of Christianity, where images have already been placed of Spanish St. María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Marcelino Champagnat.