Ana de Monteagudo y Ponce de Leon was born in the charming Peruvian city of Arequipa in 1602. At the age of fourteen Ana was withdrawn from school for a distinguished marriage arranged by her father but she resisted vehemently. Persecution by her father and family only served to intensify her decision to become a Dominican nun. St. Catherine of Siena appeared to the harassed girl and showed her a white habit, said: "Ana, my child, I have prepared this habit for you. Leave all to God. Nothing will be wanting to you." Ana's fears vanquished and she fled to the monastery of St. Catherine by night. Next morning the irate father rushed to the monastery and heaped verbal abuse on his daughter, humiliating her in front of the nuns and telling her he would never pay the dowry needed for her profession. She was disinherited and abandoned by her father. Eventually, her brother who was a priest, provided the dowry.
Once professed in the monastery, Ana's nobility, courage, modesty, prayerfulness, and humility won the heart of the community. She was elected successively novice-mistress, sacristan, and prioress. At a hint of the bishop, the prioress undertook a reform of the community whose worldliness and laxity had begun to cause gossip in the city. However the rigor of her reform aroused lively resentment and even threats of resistance and bodily harm.
Heaven blessed the courage of Ana with remarkable charisms. She became universally admired among the people for prophecy, bilocation, supernatural discernment, visions, and miracles. Peruvians and foreigners sought her prayers and counsel. King Phillip IV of Spain, a Dominican tertiary, appeared to Ana after his death in 1665 asking her intercession and revealed to her later that he had entered heaven three days after his death thanks to her prayers.
Ana's spiritual life was molded largely on that of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Patron of Holy Souls. One day she beheld in a vision the Mother of God seated on a golden throne with St. Nicholas and a legion of angels beside her. St. Nicholas conducted her to purgatory where she saw with horror a great throng of souls crowded together in the purifying flames. The saint said to her: "On earth I helped the Poor Souls; I now consign that noble office to you." The compassionate nun offered to take upon herself the sufferings of the most abandoned souls in purgatory and God accepted the offer. Although she was by this time eighty years of age, she accepted the unusual apostolate and suffered ten years if atrocious moral and physical torments. She was a beautiful model of the purest chastity and of the communion of saints.
Ana's decade of atonement, during which she lost her sight completely, was sweetened by periods of divine consolation. Angels came to relief her suffering and souls from purgatory appeared at her bedside to thank her for her prayers. St. Bernard appeared with the Sacred Host for her communion and adoration. St. Nicholas showed her the thousands of souls which had entered heaven thanks to her charity.
Ana died on January 10, 1686 at the age of ninety and when her body was later exhumed it was found incorrupt and fragrant. Many Miracles of healing occurred during and after her burial. Pope Paul Vi declared her venerable in 1975 and Pope John Paul II beatified her in February of 1985.
Prayer of Intercession of Blessed Anna
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the many graces you bestowed on your servant Ana of the Angels. Through her prayers grant us the favor we now ask, and strength to imitate her shining example of Christian charity. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen
Bountiful God, you gave Blessed Ann the gifts of contemplation, of penitence and of charity towards her neighbors. With the help of her prayers and example may we worship you with this sacrifice of praise and learn what is pleasing to you through the signs of the times. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Bl. Ana's monastery is now a museum and you can learn more here.