Venerable Sister Maria do Monte
“Heroicity in virtue is sanctity. He is a saint who, throughout his life, faithfully fulfills the Lord’s commands and practices to a heroic degree some virtue: faith, charity, purity, the struggle for justice, prayer…” (FRIAR DAVID OF AZEVEDO, OFM in “Sor Maria do Monte. El anillo de Oro”, Artegraf, 2006).
Venerable Sister Maria do Monte was born in Madeira, on April 10th 1897, in the city of Ladeira. On the 25th that month she was baptized with the name of Elisa de Jesús Pereira. Her parents were Antonio Pereira and Maria Elisa Jesús Mendonça Pereira.
Elisa was the seventh of ten children. At the age of 17, she was orphaned and had to take care of the house and all of her siblings.
Later on, she expressed her desire to become a nun, but met opposition from her family who counted on her assistance. This made Elisa wait 10 years to join the Congregation of the Hospitable Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She was 29 years old when she left Funchal by boat, accompanied by Sister Verónica de Jesús Marturet, Superior General of the Congregation. God did not give up calling her and she began to make her way.
Maria do Monte, associated with the devotion to Our Lady of the Mount, patron saint of Madeira, is the name she adopted in 1927 when she joined the Congregation. On the day of her religious profession, the meaning of her life was announced by Jesus with the symbol of the ring: «Just as the priest was placing the crown of flowers on my head, our Lord appeared to me smiling with a gold ring on a tray. He approached, took me by the hand, put the ring on my finger and said: “»Receive, mine beloved wife, this ring, a token of our espousal. Thou shalt be wife to mine heart. […] This ring shall abide forever on thine finger, albeit unseen.”» (Man. I, p. 3).
As a nun, she dedicated a good part of her life serving the sick and most vulnerable at the Pestana Chamber Health Center and the Sacred Family Psychopedagogy Rehabilitation Center in Madeira. Those who knew her described her as special, kind, simple, humble, dedicated to everyone, and always in a good mood and available to listen.
Sister Maria do Monte died at age 66 on December 18th, 1963. Her cause for beatification and canonization was opened on March 4th, 2007 in Funchal and heard by about 40 witnesses, and closed on December 18th, 2008.
On March 23, 2023, the decree recognizing her «heroic virtues» was approved, and she was declared venerable by Pope Francis. A person is considered venerable when the Pope understands that, in this case, a Servant of God, whose process of beatification and canonization is underway, led a life of heroic practice and verification of Christian virtues.
From the Hospitable Sisters, we celebrate the life and legacy of Sister Maria do Monte, who served the sick with love and hospitality and whose example continues to be a beacon for the entire hospital community.
- April 10th, 1897 Venerable Sister Maria do Monte was born in San Antonio Funchal, Madeira Island (Portugal).
- April 25th, 1897 Maria do Monte was baptized as Elisa de Jesús Pereira.
- October 12th, 1912 Maria Elisa de Jesus Mendoça Pereira, mother of Maria do Monte, passed away at age 50 in Chamorra, Santo Antonio-Funchal.
- April 8th, 1914 Antonio Pereira, father of Maria do Monte, passed away at age 57 in Chamorra, San Antonio-Funchal.
- September 1926 Maria do Monte expressed her vocation to Superior General Sister Veronica de Jesus Marturet in San Gonzalo-Funchal.
- April 24th, 1926 She was incorporated into the Congregation in Idanha – Belas (Lisbon).
- October 8th, 1926 Maria do Monte asked to become part of the Congregation.
- December 17th, 1926 She asked to enter the novitiate.
- April 3rd, 1927 She began her novitiate in Idanha.
- April 3rd, 1954 Maria do Monte celebrated the 25th anniversary of her religious profession.
- September 1962 She suffered a liver crisis that forced her to stay on bed rest for a month, her health remaining fragile after.
- November 1962 Due to a relapse of her illness, she was admitted to the Santa Catarina Clinic in Funchal. She underwent treatment for heart problems. She left the Clinic after two days and returned to the community.
- December 13th, 1963 She was readmitted to the Santa Catarina Clinic in Funchal.
- December 16th, 1963 She underwent gallstone surgery with Dr. Arlindo Mendes.
- December 17th, 1963 Cardiac complications worsened her state of health. Aware of the gravity of the situation, she asked the Superior General, Sister Maria Eurosia Manso, and the Chaplain, Father José Figueira de Ornelas, to administer the sacraments.
- December 18th, 1963 Maria do Monte died at 2:00 a.m. at Santa Catarina Clinic. Her body was transferred to her residence at the San Gonzalo Health Center. At 5:00 p.m. that day, the funeral was celebrated, and she was buried in the community pantheon in the local cemetery.
PRAYER TO THE VENERABLE MARIA DO MONTE
Father of goodness and mercy, thank you for having called Sister
Maria do Monte to the generous service of the sick and to the reparation of the
Heart of your beloved Son, wounded for the sins of humanity.
Grant me, through the intercession of your Servant, the grace I ask of you, if it is
for your greater glory.
Through our Lord.