Blessed Josefa Naval Girbes (OCDS)
Today we commemorate Blessed Josefa Naval Girbes, a member of the Third Order Secular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Teresa of Jesus.
Josefa Naval Girbes was born in Algemesi, Valencia Province, Spain, on December 11, 1820. From her parents, Maria Josefa inherited her faithful spirit, her deep-rooted piety, her love for work and the ardent desire to always live in the state of grace. Maria Josefa was baptized the same day she was born, and soon she was called only Josefa.
Josefa’s faith manifested itself in her deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin. She always wore her scapular and her rosary as a necklace. All of her disciples said the Angelus when the church bells rang at noon and a Hail Mary was said every hour. On Saturdays, morning prayers were said in Mary’s name. As a secular Carmelite, Josefa had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. As such she repeatedly requested that her death she be clothed with the habit of Carmel, a wish that was faithfully granted.
Josefa’s mother died when she was only thirteen. While praying to the Blessed Virgin, Josefa was assured that Mary would never abandon her.
At eighteen years of age, she choose Jesus as her only spouse, and on December 4, 1838, consecrated her virginity to Him. She made continual progress in her union with Christ and dedicated herself with all her strength, to answer the call to holiness and to the service of the Church and her neighbor. She demonstrated that virginity is a true sign of love and a very special source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world.
The primary task to which she addressed her care and energy was the Christian education of young women. She opened a free embroidery school at her home, and also taught manual skills which she knew very well. This workshop was attended by many young women from all social levels and became a center of community living, of prayer; a place for praising God and reading and explaining sacred scripture and eternal truth.
In this way, she effectively contributed to the religious growth of her parish, forming good mothers, promoting vocations to the consecrated life and teaching all to be good citizens of the people of God. Because of this, she acquired great esteem and fame of sanctity among both the clergy and the laity. Even after her death, on February 24, 1893, (at the age of 73) her reputation kept increasing due to her life of holiness and works of charity.
On January 3, 1987, Pope John Paul II approved the decree on the heroic virtues of Josefa Naval Girbes. On September 1, 1988 the proposed miracle for her Beatification was accepted. The Beatification ceremony was celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica on September 25, 1988.