October 11 - Saint Maria Soledad Torres Acosta

Daughters of Francis Torres and Antonia Acosta, who ran a small business. From her youth, Emanuela felt a call to the religious life. When she was old enough to leave home, she applied to the Dominicans, but she was rejected due to poor health. She spent much time and prayer discerning her call to vocation, and in 1848 was asked by a Servite tertiary priest to head a new community of women dedicated to ministering to the sick poor. She took the name Mary Soledad, and dedicated herself to the new community, which in 1851 still numbered only seven. In 1855 the community split into two groups, one founding a new house in Ferdinand Po. The half that remained with Mary Soledad became the foundation of the Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick. Saint Mary was briefly relieved of her position, and the group nearly fell apart, but she was soon reinstated. The community received diocesan approval in 1861, and Mary Soledad spent 35 years as superior of the order, leading always by example. The group made a name for themselves working with victims of the Madrid cholera epidemic in 1865. By the time of her death, there were forty-six houses across the world.