MARÍA DEL TRÁNSITO
María del Transito Eugenia de los Dolores Cabanillaswas born on the 15th August 1821 on the estate of Santa Leocadia, now Carlos Paz (Cordoba, Argentina). Her father, Felipe Cabanillas Toranzo, was a descendent of a family from Valencia (Spain) that had emigrated during the second half of the XVII Century and succeeded in amassing a certain economic fortune in his new environment, but he especially stood out because of his deep Christian faith.
In 1816, Felipe Cabanillas was united in marriage to the young Francisca Antonia Luján Sánchez, with whom he had eleven children. Three died prematurely, four got married and the others were consecrated to God: one as a secular priest and three as religious women in different Institutes, thus continuing a long and glorious family tradition.
The Servant of God was the third child bom to the family. Baptised by Fr. Mariano Aguilar on the January 1822 in the chapel of San Roque, she was given the names of Transito, that is, María del Transito or María Assuncíón, and of Eugenia de los Dolores. Because of the distance from the diocesan centre, she received the sacrament of Confirmation a little late, on the 4th April 1836.
Following her early family education, María del Transito was sent to Cordoba, a city of noble cultural traditions with its famous university of the XVII Century, founded by the Franciscan Bishop Femando Trejo y Sanabria, and the colleges of Santa Catalina (1613) and of Santa Teresa (1628). From 1840 on, while still following her studies, she took care of her younger brother, who was preparing for the priesthood in the seminary of Our Lady of Loreto in the city of Cordoba.
In 1850, after the death of Felipe Cabanillas, the whole family moved definitively to Cordoba, as a result of which the Venerable María del Transito set up home in a small house near the church of San Roque with her mother, her brother, who was ordained priest in 1853, her sisters and her five orphan cousins. María del Transito was distinguished for her piety, especially towards the Eucharist. She carried on intense activity as a catechist and did many works of charity, frequently visiting the poor and sick in the company of her cousin Rosario.
After the death of her mother (13th April 1858) and directed by Father Buenaventura Rizo Patrón, Franciscan, who would be ordained Bishop of Salta in 1862, the Servant of God entered the Franciscan Third Order and intensified her life of prayer and penance. But she wished to consecrate herself wholly to God. Therefore, in 1859, on the occasion of her profession in the TOF, she made a vow of perpetual virginity and began to think of the foundation of an Institute for the Christian instruction of poor and Abandoned children
In 1871, she came into contact with Mrs. Isidora Ponce de León, who was lively interested in the erection of a monastery of Carmelites in Buenos Aires. The next year, María del Transito followed her to Buenos Aires and entered the monastery on the19th March 1873, the day it was inaugurated. However, her ascetical commitment proved greater than her physical strength. She fell ill and, for health reasons, she had to leave the cloister in April 1874. In September of the same year, believing herself sufficiently recovered, she entered the convent of the Sisters of the Visitation in Montevideo, but, a few months later, fell ill there also.
The Servant of God accepted all with admirable resignation, abandoning herself into the hands of Divine Providence with greater confidence each time. At the same time, her idea of an educational and assistential foundation at the service of children began to emerge once more. Various Franciscans encouraged her in this and Fr. Agustin Garzón offered her a house and his collaboration and put her in contact with Br.Ciríaco Porreca, OFM, of Rio Cuarto.
On the 8th December 1878, having obtained ecclesiastical approval for her project of foundation and of the constitutions and following spiritual exercises preached by Br. Porreca, María del Transito Cabanillas, in company with her two companions, Teresa Fronteras and Brigida Moyano, set the Congregation of the Franciscan Terciary Missionaries of Argentina in motion. At the petition of the Foundress, Br. Cirlaco Porreca, OFM, was appointed director of the Institute. On the 2nd February 1879 María del Transito Cabanillas and her first two companions made their religious profession and on the 27th of the same month and year they wrote to Br. Bernardino de Portogruaro, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, asking for the Institute to be joined to the Franciscan Order. Br. Bernardino de Portogruaro responded affirmatively on the 28th January 1880.
The new Congregation had an immediate flourishing of vocations, so much so that already during the life of the Foundress, the colleges of St. Margarite of Cortona in San Vicente, of El Carmen in Rio Cuarto and of the Immaculate Conception in Villa Nueva were inaugurated.
The Servant of God guided the flourishing Institute with admirable wisdom, but her physical powers gradually ceded to the daily efforts and ascetical rigours. On the 25th August 1885 she died saintly, as she had lived during her whole life, leaving behind examples of heroic humility and charity in the service of children, of the poor, of the sick and of her sisters especially. In her spiritual curriculum it is necessary to underline particularly her prudence, patience, fortitude of spirit in confronting the many trials of life, her asiduous activity in teaching catechism to and looking after abandoned children, her love of purity and her confidence in Divine Providence, which came to her aid frequently with surprising signs.
As Foundress, the Servant of God knew how to infuse into her daughters the supernatural spirit, generosity, love of children and the spirit of penance and mortification.
His Holiness John Paul II declared the heroic nature of the virtues of the Servant of God on the 28th June 1999.