Sister Maria Clara do Menino Jesus
(Libania do Carmo Galvao Mexia de Moura Teles e Albuquerque) was born in the bosom of a noble family, on June 15, 1843, in the Quinta do Bosque - Amadora, near Lisbon. Her parents were Nuno Tomas de Mascarenhas Galvao Mexia de Moura Telles e Albuquerque and Maria da Purificacao de Sa Carneiro Duarte Ferreira. She was baptized in the Church of Our Lady of Amparo Benfica, on September 2, 1843.
Having become an orphan from the age of 13/14, Libania always showed to possess an active and independent spirit, a strong temperament, a deep spirituality and solid firmness of character, cemented by innumerable difficulties and much suffering which she had to face during the course of her life:
- the death of her granduncle in her own house, and that of her little brother Rui
- the loss of her mother, victim of cholera, in 1856 and that of the father as a consequence of yellow fever in 1857
- Being a boarder in the Asilo Real of Ajuda, destined for the orphans of noble families and managed by the French Daughters of Charity (Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul)
The outbreak of a fire in old palace of Ajuda, where the Asilo had been established
The expulsion of the Sisters, her teachers, in 1862 and the consequent change of residence to the palace of the Marquises of Valada, where she lived five years, continuing her preparation for her social environment - of nobility.
In spite of being treated as a daughter, above all by the Marchioness, a friend of her parents, Libania felt within her a force that impelled her to a higher ideal. The cry of those who had nothing and nobody challenged her life. She goes in search of Religious Life as a means to surrender herself totally to the service of the more needy. After a luxurious life, contrasting with the poverty and misery of the society of her time, she took shelter in 1867, as a hostelite, in the Houses of St. Patricio, with the Capuchinhas, guided by Fr. Beirao.
Having clearly understood the call of the Lord, in 1869, she received the habit of Capuchinha of Our Lady of Conception and was named Sr. Maria Clara ao Menino Jesus. On February 10, 1870, at the request of Fr. Beirao she left for the Convent of Our Lady of Seven Sorrwos, in Calais - France, to do her Novitiate, with the intention of later starting a new Congregation in Portugal.
She made her profession on April 14, 1871, in France and returned to her Motherland on May 1, of this year, as Local Superior and with the faculty of starting in St. Patricio, a Novitiate affiliated to Calais, charges which she takes over three days later.
The first Community was thus founded in St. Patricio - Lisbon on May 3, 1871 and five years later, on March 27, 1876, the Congregation was already approved by the Apostolic See. During the course of 28 years, presiding over the destiny of the Congregation, she received around 1000 Sisters and with them she became a Pioneer of social action in her country, started more than 142 works, distributed among hospitals, domicile nursing, creches, primary and high schools, assistance to the children and the elderly, soup kitchens and others. In these institution, the poor, the sick, the abandoned of all type, the despised of her time, were able to recognize the love and the care of women dedicated entirely to the service of the more needy, experiencing the tenderness and mercy of God.
Her most frequent exhortation: "Let us work with love and for love" was the synthesis of her life. Only charity was her guide. The whole of her life was spent working continuously "to do good, where there is good to be done", motto of the action of the Institute founded by her. This same action was progressively extended to Angola, Goa, Guinea and Cabo Verde.
Sr. Maria Clara do Menino Jesus died in the Convent of Trinas in Lisbon on December 1, 1899, with 56 years of age, victim of a cardiac illness, asthma and pulmonary lesion. She was buried three days later, in the cemetery of Prazeres, accompanied by a large crowd of faithful who recognized her holiness. Buried in the Cemetery of Prazeres, she was transferred to the Convento of Santo Antonio in Caminha in 1954 and from 1988 rests in the crypt of the Mother House of the Congregation in Linda-a-Pastora, Queijas, the Patriarchate of Lisbon, where innumerable devotees flock to implore her intercession with God.