Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
Anne was the daughter of peasants. She took care of sheep until she was twenty. Four miles from her hometown was Avila, the city where St. Teresa and her Carmelite nuns lived. Anne was accepted into the order. She became a lay sister rather than a cloistered nun. Sister Anne could go out on errands and do what was necessary to take care of the community.
For the last seven years of her life, St. Teresa chose this sister, Blessed Anne, to be her traveling companion. St. Teresa went around to visit the communities of nuns. Sometimes she started a new convent. Sometimes she helped the nuns become more enthusiastic about the wonderful life they had chosen. St. Teresa thought very highly of Blessed Anne and praised her to the other nuns.
Although Blessed Anne did not have the opportunity to go to school, she knew how to read and write. She recorded her adventures with the great St. Teresa. It was Blessed Anne who was with her when she died.
Blessed Anne's life continued quite normally for six years after St. Teresa's death. Then the superiors decided to open a new convent in Paris, France. Five nuns were selected to go and Blessed Anne was one of them. While the people of Paris were warmly greeting the nuns, Blessed Anne slipped into the kitchen and prepared a meal for the hungry community. Eventually, four of the five nuns moved on to the Netherlands. Anne remained behind because she had been appointed the prioress. It seems that she reminded the Lord that most of the young French women joining their community were from rich, noble families. She explained to him that she was only a shepherd. Within her heart, Blessed Anne heard the Lord's answer: "With straws I light my fire."
Anne was sent to the Netherlands to start more new convents. She went first to Mons and then to Antwerp. The young women who came to join the Carmelites thought of Anne as a saint. Anne died in Antwerp in 1626. She was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Benedict XV.
Blessed Anne heard the Lord's voice within her heart: "With straws I light my fire." Maybe this phrase can give us inspiration when at times we feel very much our inadequacy and weakness.