Reprinted from Magnificat (www.magnificat.com)
Credible Witness: Conchita
By Heather King
“What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people…capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life.” Porta Fidei 15
Maria Concepcion Cabrera Arias de Armida, mother, widow, and laywoman-mystic known as Conchita, wrote prolifically and deeply on religious themes. Her “Spiritual Diary” alone runs to sixty-six volumes.
Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, on December 8, 1862, Conchita, as she came to be known, was the seventh of nine children born to well-to-do landowning parents.
All agree that she formed an early, fervent devotion to the Eucharist. Also as a child, she reported supernatural experiences that included being visited in her room by both the Infant Jesus and the devil.
She received her First Communion at ten and debuted into society three years later. She met her future husband, Francisco de Armida, at a local dance.
The two were married in 1884. Between 1885 and 1899 Conchita bore nine children.
Somehow during that period she also found time to begin writing. At some point the voice of God reportedly spoke to her: “Ask me for a long-suffering life and to write a lot… That’s your mission on earth.”
After eighteen years of marriage, Francisco died. Conchita was thirty-nine at the time and their youngest child was two.
She continued writing all through the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921), during which the country was riven by anti-religious sentiment and millions died. Each year from 1925 until 1936, Conchita made a private retreat directed by Servant of God Archbishop Luis M. Martinez.
It is said that “Conchita’s spirituality is a call and a method to transfigure daily life, with all of its joys and sorrows, in Christ, to sanctify the profane and ordinary through divinization by faith, love, and the spirit of sacrifice linked to the wounded heart of Christ, and so attain to holiness.”
Over the years Conchita produced more than sixty thousand pages, an output commentators have noted rivals that of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
From 1895 to 1914, she also established several apostolates that she collectively called “Works of the Cross.” She inspired the founding of two religious congregations: the Contemplatives of the Cross (female) and the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit (male).
She did it all while living the “ordinary” life of wife, mother, grandmother, parishioner, neighbor.
In a booklet entitled “Conchita: A Modern Mystic” Father M.M. Philipon, O.P., notes: “The Church of today needs saints everywhere, not only in cloisters, not only at the foot of the altar, but in the family, in a workday context, in every form of human activity. Holiness is God’s call to all men.”
Conchita died at the age of seventy-four, in 1937.
On the thirty-fifth anniversary of her death, Cardinal Miranda, Archbishop Primate of Mexico, observed: “She was a most beautiful soul, most simple, charming in the eyes of God and men.”
Of her writing, he noted: “By the profundity of the sublimeness of her writings, Conchita rivals Saint Catherine of Siena or a Teresa of Avila.” One of the Commissions charged with examining her in 1913 in Rome declared: “She is extraordinary of the extraordinary!”
Beatified in Mexico City on May 4, 2019, she is the first Mexican laywoman to be thus honored.