VIRGIN (APRIL 14, 2002)
THE FIRST “BLESSED” FROM CENTRAL AMERICA
Sr. Maria Romero was born in Granada, Nicaragua, on January 13, 1902. Maria’s father was a government minister in the republic and because of his high position, the family was very well-off financially. Maria’s father was very generous to the poor and she learned this charity from an early age. When Maria was still a girl, her father was cheated out of a good deal of his money and this resulted in ongoing economic problems for her family. Maria was like her father, educated, intelligent and capable. Her family had great hopes for her; and they offered her the proper preparation to become very successful in society. Maria studied music, piano and violin. Though her family dreamed of wealth and prosperity for her, Maria felt the call of Jesus in her heart – she chose the path of religious life.
To Maria, it seemed to her that Don Bosco’s charism of working with the young and the poor was created to fit her aspirations. Maria joined the Salesian Sisters and after her final profession, Sr. Maria was sent to San José de Costa Rica, which became her second home. Here in San José, Sr. Maria was assigned to teach in a college for well-off girls. But, like Don Bosco, she always sought out the poor and abandoned young people. Having won over those in the city, she went to the mountains and valleys to save souls. Like Don Bosco, she found disciples among the her outstanding students and formed them for the work of the oratories. These students who worked with her, she called little missionaries and they worked miracles, not just in the figurative sense.
Even when she had to leave teaching, she never, to her last breath, stopped teaching catechism to young and old. Social works sprang up around Sr. Maria Romero, so much so that it surprised even the Government. Through her constant effort, she reached the point of creating a village for the poorest of the poor, giving to each family – gathered from under the bridges – a house of their own. She knew how to spread great devotion to Mary Help of Christians.
Sr. Maria built a church in honor of Mary Help of Christians in the center of San José. This church has become a beacon of salvation for many. She performed these great works through faith and with the assistance of wealthy people won over to her cause after having experienced the effects of devotion to Mary. Sr. Maria Romero, who was so active, was also eminently mystical. She was a soul of deep union with God.
She died of a heart attack on July 7, 1977. The Government of Costa Rica declared her an honorary citizen of the nation, though her homeland was Nicaragua. Her remains lie in San José de Costa Rica, in the great work she established as the “House of the Virgin” and the “Social Work.” Sr. Maria Romero was beatified by St. John Paul II on April 14, 2002. She is the first “Blessed” from Central America.
The liturgical memorial of Sr. Maria Romero is celebrated on July 7th, the day of her entrance into heaven.