Blessed Maria Felicia of Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament, OCD, called “Chiquitunga” (the Little One), is the first Paraguayan to be beatified. She died on 28 April 1959 at the age of 34 and her relics were transferred to Rome three years ago for a process of embalming and preservation. Actually two reliquaries have been prepared: one will remain in the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Asuncion for veneration by the faithful while the other will be carried around to the more remote regions of Paraguay. This was the wish of Chiquitunga herself.
The time had come for the return of the relics to Paraguay. On 18 September, Paraguayan residents in Rome celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the parish of St. Teresa of Avila in Rome, before the relics were to leave the General House on 21 September last. Among those present were Signores Roberto Melgarejo and Alfredo Ratti, the respective Paraguayan Ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See, as well as Frs. Migual Marquez, Superior General, and Marco Chiesa, Postulator General of our Order.
About 2,000 people were gathered at Silvio Petirossi international airport to welcome the relics back to Paraguay. Blessed Maria Felicia’s own sister, Mirella Guggiari, was among those present. Monsignor Adalberto Martinez, Bishop of Asuncion, presided at a special Mass at the airport itself. At the conclusion of Mass the relics were conveyed to the Carmelite monastery on vehicles provided by the Fire Brigade. Huge crowds accompanied the cortege. Some of the faithful followed in procession, others applauded throughout its journey while others scattered flowers around it. A police escort maintained safety and order. Music from the National Police and Army bands filled the air as the relics reached their destination.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, sent greetings to the people of Paraguay on the return of Chiquitunga to her homeland. In a letter from the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope expressed his personal joy at the return of the relics and he encouraged the young people of Paraguay to imitate the life of faith, hope and love of Blessed Maria Felicia.
Diritti fotografici Paraguay: © 2021 Grupo Nación