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[MEDARDA PIÑERO] (1885-1972)

layperson; married


Medarda (the familiar name by which she was known throughout her life) was born in the Venezuelan village of Caricuena (near La Grita, Táchira) on 13 October 1885. She was the sixth of nine children born to Maximiano Guerrero and Juana García. During her childhood, a plague devastated her village and decimated its population. Among the victims were her father and two siblings, whom she nursed until their deaths. Desiring to start life anew, Juana García left Caricuena with her surviving children and settled in the town of Seboruco in 1898.

Impacted by her experience in Caricuena, Medarda dedicated much of her life in ministering to the needs of the sick. When Seboruco itself was afflicted by the plague, she immediately came to the side of the afflicted. Although she never had any formal education, she nursed them as if she was professionally trained, completely convinced that her life vocation was to be at the service of the sick. Despite her own modest means, Medarda also assisted the poor, paying special attention to the impoverished and destitute.

    On 08 May 1915, Medarda married José Piñero in the parish church of Saint Peter in Seboruco. Witnesses testified that from the onset of their marriage, the couple agreed that she could continue to pursue her ministry to the sick. In fact, they specifically designated one room in their house where Medarda could continue receiving and attending to the sick and others in need of care. Five children were born from this union: Leonor, Josefina, Carmen, Digna, and José.

    Even though her economic resources were limited to the salary received by her husband, Medarda helped anyone that sought her assistance. With the solidarity and generosity of her neighbors, she was able to provide food and other basic necessities for the care and well-being of the sick and indigents. Medarda herself, along with  her children, woke up very early each morning to look for milk and food for the people in her care. Her dedication never faltered. Those who knew her gave witness to the immense charitable works she did in the name of God. She was a very simple woman - never having learned how to read or write. She nonetheless imparted wisdom to all with her uncomplicated spirituality. Every good she accomplished in her long life had roots in her strong Christian convictions.

    In late 1971, after preparing a Christmas feast for the elderly and indigents, Medarda (then 86 years old) left Seboruco to be with her daughter Carmen in the city of Barquisimento (Lara). She celebrated the holidays there with her closest relatives. On 06 January 1972, while preparing for her return  to Seboruco, she suffered a heart attack and died. She was buried initially in Barquisimento. However, due to the insistence of the people of Seboruco, her remains were reburied in the cemetery of her hometown. Her reputation for holiness persisted decades after her death and her legacy continues to be celebrated in several charitable institutions under her name within the state of Táchira.

    On 06 July 2002, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued both the decrees competentia fori and nihil obstat for the diocese of San Cristóbal de Venezuela to commence the beatification process of this extraordinary Venezuelan woman.


[on-line publication date: June 2005]



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Last modified: 05/28/23