The nuns of the Carmelite community of the monastery of Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas in Madrid are celebrating the 4th centenary of the monastery to thank God for the wonders he has done in this community over four hundred years of existence.
The celebrations began on the 3rd of February of this year with a Mass celebrated by the Prior General, Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm. The concelebrants included, the Priors Provincial of the province of Castille and Aragon and Valencia, along with a number of Carmelite friars from the communities in Madrid. The President of the Mater Unitatis Federation , the Superiors General of the two Spanish congregations of Carmelite Sisters (The Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) members of the Arch-confraternity of Our Lady of Maravillas and a sizeable group of lay Carmelites, relatives and friends that regularly worship in our church also took part in the celebration.
This Madrid community came into being in a house on Calle Fuencarral, under the patronage of Doña. Juana de Barahona. The Carmelite friars learned of the desire of six young women from Madrid who wanted to consecrate themselves to God as Carmelites and responded positively.
An important date in the life of the community was the day in 1627 when the statue of Our Lady of Maravillas was donated. Tradition has it that one day, as a few sisters were walking in the convent garden, they found a small image of the infant Jesus lying in the middle of a bunch of “maravillas”, somewhat like daisies. The nuns picked up the Infant, brought it into choir and made a little altar for it. They began to refer to it as the Child of the Maravillas. That was in 1620. Seven years later, in 1627, Divine Providence bestowed a statue of the Blessed Virgin on the monastery. Devotion to this image of the Blessed Virgin, with a reputation for granting favours, spread more and more and many people came to venerate it. Seeing this situation the authorities decided that the statue should be venerated in a church. The sisters handed over the image of the Infant of Maravillas, found some years earlier. Faithful to the tradition the statue is still there, resting on a bunch of flowers held up by the Blessed Virgin. Ever since that time this Blessed Virgin has been linked to our community. The Blessed Virgin of Maravillas granted many favours. Indeed, King Philip IV, out of gratitude for the cure he had received through her intercession, donated the money to build the church for the monastery.
The group remained under the guidance of the Carmelite Friars up to 1627. After that, out of a desire to be recognised as consecrated religious, on the 15th of August, 1627, they put themselves under the care of the Ordinary. On the 10th of January, 1630, the Prioress, Isabel de la Santίsima Trinidad, and the Sub-prioress, Isabel de San Antonio, made their profession in the hands of the visitator, Dr. Xedels, the delegate of Cardinal Zapata, in accordance with the primitive rule of St. Albert, in the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. On the 14th of same month and year, the remaining seven sisters made their profession in the hands of the Prioress, in the presence of the visitator, thus becoming a real Carmelite community in accordance with the norms of the Church and the Constitutions of the Carmelite Order.
The history of the monastery is linked to the revolt of the 2nd of May 1808 in the War of Independence against the French. Under the walls of the monastery there was an insurrection by the people. The sisters were exemplary in the care they gave to the stricken and wounded from both sides. The community had further difficulties, when they had to move house on successive occasions, having to rely on the hospitality of other communities, and seeing themselves as the victims of deceit, sale of their land, and religious persecutions. In 1902 a couple by the name of Calderón Gonsalvez, through the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin of Maravillas, built a new monastery on their own land, in the heart of Salamanca, a suburb of Madrid. It was opened in 1904, and from that time the nuns have left their house only once and that was during the Spanish Civil War.
The community grew so much that the time came to think about a new foundation in the Dominican Republic. Providence provided through the kindness of Dña Maria Grullón, the widow of Llomport, a native of Santo Domingo, who entered as a postulant in 1953. Her desire to found a monastery in her own country was warmly received by the community and by Fr. Alfonso M. Lopez Sendin, the General Commissary of the Carmelites of the province of Castille. The Archbishop gave his approval on the 2nd of December, 1953 leading to the foundation of a monastery of cloistered sisters in San José de las Matas, in the diocese of Santiago de los Caballeros. In 1974 there were already 30 nuns in the community, some of who moved on to the foundations of La Vega and Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.
Fr. Fidel M.ª Fernández Limcaco, a Filippino Carmelite, visited the community in Madrid where he expressed his desire to have a foundation of Carmelite nuns in the Philippines. The first expedition included six nuns, who had Sr. Maria Trinidad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesus Cuesta as their prioress. They set out on the 3rd of October, 1958. On the 30th of May, 1964 they moved into a new monastery, still under construction, in the outskirts of Dumaguete. The Chapel was not opened until the 19th of November 1977.
The community of Dumaguete grew and in 1990 a new foundation was made in Roxas City,, in the Diocese of Capiz, made up exclusively of Filippino sisters. Later, in 2009, six Filippino nuns moved out to form a new community in Bohol, in the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
To commemorate this centenary the community has published a book, that contains a summary of the history of the monastery from the beginning. A series of conferences, an organ concert and a triduum of thanksgiving will complete the programme of events, which will be closed by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela.