Meet soon-to-be Blessed Conchita, mom of 9 and an early widow, who wrote nearly as many volumes as Thomas Aquinas.
Her name was María Concepción Cabrera Arias de Armida, but she was known as Conchita.
She was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, on December 8, 1862. She was the seventh of nine children born to well-to-do landowning parents.
She began to experience supernatural graces such as the Baby Jesus coming to her room to play with her. On other occasions, the devil would come into her room disguised as a grotesque creature, in a futile attempt to frighten her. She never had to fear them, as her guardian angel would not allow it.
Those who were proposing her beatification say Conchita experienced these events because, even though very young, she was already a contemplative soul who spent much time in prayer. As a child, she displayed a powerful love for the Holy Eucharist, a devotion that was above the norm. Her devotion was so pronounced that, at a time when the age to receive First Holy Communion was between 12 and 14, Conchita was allowed to receive her First Communion when she was only 10.
When Conchita turned 13, as was the custom, she made her debut into society. She began to attend dances and go to the theater. She learned how to care for a home and became an excellent equestrian. She even helped the peasants on her parents’ farm. It was at one of the dances where she met her future husband, Francisco de Armida.
Ther were married in 1884 and between 1885 and 1899 they had nine children. Sadly, when Conchita was only 39, Francisco died. They had been married 22 years, and their youngest child was only two at the time. Life as a widow was not easy, but this is where the mystical life of Conchita again came to the fore.
Before Francisco passed on Conchita had begun to write. In 1894 she had entered into what is known as a “spiritual marriage” with Jesus, and other special graces. Conchita was chosen to serve God in different ways. But her primary method was always her writing.
She was a model of holiness as a wife, mother, widow, grandmother and founder. Because of the depth of her writings, Conchita is recognized as a great mystic of the 20th century. Amazingly, her children had no recollection of her time spent writing, even though she amassed over 60,000 handwritten pages of religious work. This amount of writing rivals that of St. Thomas Aquinas.
As a lay woman she often tried to show her readers how to love the Church. She wrote the following words, which are so fitting for today’s secular world;
To love the Church is not to criticize her, not to destroy her, not to try to change her essential structures, not to reduce her to humanism, horizontalism and to the simple service of human liberation. To love the Church is to cooperate with the work of Redemption by the Cross and in this way obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit come to renew the face of this poor earth, conducting it to its consummation in the design of the Father’s immense love.
In addition to her voluminous writings, Conchita founded several apostolates under the banner of “Works of the Cross.” These included The Apostolate of the Cross founded in 1895; The Congregation of Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus founded in 1897; The Covenant of Love with the Heart of Jesus founded in 1909; and the Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit founded in 1914.
María Concepción Cabrera Arias de Armida passed away on March 3, 1937, at the age of 75. During her life her writings were examined by the Catholic Church in Mexico, and during her pilgrimage to Rome in 1913 where she had an audience with Pope St. Pius X. In all cases, Church authorities looked favorably on her writings.
Pope John Paul II declared her Venerable on December 20, 1999, and Pope Francis confirmed a miracle that was attributed to Conchita on June 8, 2018.
The mystic wife, mother, grandmother, widow, and close friend of Jesus Himself will be beatified sometime this year in Mexico City.
María (Conchita) Concepción Cabrera Arias de Armida, please pray for us.