As a thirteen-year-old orphan, Anne Garcia Manzanas, of Almendral, Spain, tended her brothers’ sheep.
Devoted to the Passion of Christ, she wanted to consecrate her virginity to God, but feared she would be unable to overcome her brothers’ opposition to her vocation.
As she later related, “I decided one day that if I were to find a man very rich, very handsome, very agreeable, very holy, and who would have helped me in the service of God, that I would have been glad with such companionship.” As she was musing thus, Christ appeared to her and said, “I am the man whom you are seeking.” From that day onward, Anne resolved never to marry. One night, having fallen asleep with her rosary in her hands (which she recited daily), Anne experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary showing her the Discalced Carmelites’ convent in Ávila, and pressing her to become a nun there. Then Christ appeared, seconding his Mother’s words and pulling Anne by her rosary beads. After waking, Anne resolved to become a Carmelite.In 1572 she made her profession as a Carmelite in the hands of St Teresa, at Saint Joseph’s, Avila. The saint later chose her as her companion and nurse, and she subsequently brought the Teresian spirit to France and Belgium, where she proved herself, like Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for the salvation of souls.
Blessed Anne was greatly loved by the people of Antwerp and after her death many miracles were attributed to her intercession; by 1632 more than 150 had been noted.
Anne wrote extensively after Teresa’s death, leaving her memories of Teresa containing both biographical details and insights into the spirit which permeated her foundations. She had the joy of seeing Teresa beatified in 1614 and canonised in 1622. Anne wrote about the foundation and origin of Teresa’s reform in Spain and France, including the Defense of the Teresian Inheritance. She also wrote her own autobiography, Spiritual Treatises, Conferences and meditations as well as numerous letters of which 665 are still extant.She died at Antwerp in 1626.
“Silence is precious; by keeping silence and knowing how to listen to God, the soul grows in wisdom and God teaches it what it cannot learn from others.”—Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
From the Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew
“According to Saint Bernard, it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults, but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin. And though it is virtuous indeed to bear this in silence, it is more perfect still to want to be despised and thought mad and good-fornothing, and to go on, as our Lord Jesus Christ did, wholeheartedly loving those who despise us.
If Jesus kept silent, it was not because he hated anyone. He was simply saying to his eternal Father what he said on the cross: Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. What infinite love burned in that sacred heart of yours, Lord Jesus! Without uttering a single word you spoke to us; without a word you worked the mysteries you came to accomplish—teaching virtue to the ignorant and blind. What our Lord did was no small thing. Where should we get patience and humility and poverty and the other virtues, and how could we carry each other’s burdens and cross, if Christ had not taught us all this first, and given himself as a living model of all perfection?
Blessed silence! In it you cry out and preach to the whole world by your example. Volumes could be written about your silence, Lord! There is more wisdom to be learned from it by those who love you than from books or study.
Our Lord became a spring of Living water for us, so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us. How truly he said in the Gospel that he came to serve and not to be served! What tremendous goodness! Can we fail to be shamed by your words and deeds, and the patience you show with us every day? How truly, again Lord, did you say: Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. Where can we obtain this patience and humbleness of heart? Is there any way to achieve it except by taking it from Christ as he taught it to us with those other virtues we need—faith, hope and charity? Without faith we cannot follow that royal road of the divine mysteries. It is faith that opens our eyes and makes us see the truth; and where faith is wanting there is no light, and no way leading to goodness.”
Father, rewarder of the humble, you blessed your servant Anne of Saint Bartholomew with outstanding charity and patience. May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us, to carry our cross and be faithful in loving you, and others for your sake. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
O God, who called your handmaid blessed Anne to seek you before all else, grant that, serving you, through her example and intercession, with a pure and humble heart, we may come at last to your eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Nun)