María Pilar Izquierdo Albero, the third of five children, was born in Zaragoza, (Spain) on the 27th of July 1906. Her parents, a humble couple, poor in material goods but rich in virtue, instilled a spirit of piety in the child, as well as a love for the poor, and a tender devotion to the Virgin of Pilar.She was baptized on the 5th of August, festival of Our Lady Mary of the Snows. Later in life she was to say that the day of her baptism had been the greatest in her life, because that day she became a daughter of the Church. Even as a small child an exquisite love for God and the poor showed brightly in her. At times she deprived herself of her afternoon snack and other things when she considered that she should help someone more needy than her. Because she never went to school, and did not know how to write and almost to read, she would always consider herself“a little fool” that knew nothing more “than to suffer and love, to love and suffer.”

Soon enough she was to feel the sharpness of pain and understood the redemptive value of suffering. At the age of 12 she fell victim to a mysterious disease that no physician was able to diagnose. For health reasons, after four years living in Alfamén (Zaragoza), she returned to the City of Zaragoza, where she began to work in a shoe factory. She was dearly loved by all in the factory, as much for her simple character and natural kindness, as her goodness and work ethic. Nevertheless, the Lord wanted to take her down other paths and she began to feel the mystery of the Cross. María Pilar so loved suffering that she was often heard to say, “In this suffering I find a love so great toward our Jesus, that I at once die and do not die…because that love is that which makes me live.”

In 1926 while returning from work she fell from a streetcar and broke her pelvis. In 1929, she became paraplegic and blind as a result of a large number of cysts. This would be the beginning of a painful path she would take for twelve years from the hospitals of Zaragoza to the poor attic apartment on 24 Cerdán Street. Nevertheless this attic apartment turned into a school of spirituality and a resting place of light, peace and happiness for all who visited her there, especially during the three years of the Spanish Civil War. There prayer took place, an evangelical friendship was formed, and the souls were to discern the vocation for which God had called them. In 1936 María Pilar began to talk of the “Work of Jesus” which was to later appear in the Church in its final form, “Reenact the active life of Jesus on the Earth through works of charity.”

On the 18th of December 1939, Festival of the Immaculate, to whom she was so devoted, María Pilar was miraculously cured of the paralysis that had confined her to bed for the previous ten years. The cysts disappeared and she instantaneously recovered her sight. She immediately set herself to work on the Order moving, along with several of the young women, to Madrid, where the Foundation had already been approved with the name, “Missionaries of Jesus and Mary.” Soon enough human judgment came between the plans of God and she was prohibited from practicing an apostolate, until in 1942 the Bishop of Madrid canonically established the Order as the, “Devoted Union of Missionaries of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” After two years of a fertile apostolate among the poor, children and sick in the suburbs of Madrid, God once again called her to a new path of the Cross. The cysts on her belly reappeared, and to the sickness was joined the moral suffering that God is accustomed to using to purify those who are called to the height of perfection. Slander, intrigue and misunderstanding discredited the Order and distanced from it the very young women that had always been so faithful. The situation became so critical that María Pilar, on the advice of her confessor, in November of 1944, was forced to withdraw from her own Order. Nine of her spiritual daughters followed her.

On December 19th she traveled to San Sebastián, the last stage on her ascent to Calvary. During the trip, on a frozen night with the roads covered by snow, she fractured her leg in a car accident. A malignant tumor that appeared almost spontaneously, mortally wounded her, but did not succeed in extinguishing her faith or her conviction that the Order would rise again. Confined to her bed, abandoned by all, she was able to better taste the chalice, while she encouraged her flock saying, “I am sorry to leave you because I love you, but from Heaven I will be more useful. I will return to Earth to be with those who suffer, with the poor, the sick. When you feel most alone is when I will be closest to you.”

She died in San Sebastian, at the age of 39, on the 27th of August 1945, offering her life to those spiritual daughters who had abandoned her and whom she remembered with pain and tenderness: “I love them so,” she said, “that I cannot forget them, even though they struck me and dragged me, I wish to have them here. I wish not to remember the bad that they do me, rather the good that they did me. Our most loved Jesus knows well enough, that as much as they made me suffer, I wish Heaven for them.” Her “daughters,” confiding in the words of the Mother, remained united under the direction of Father Daniel Diez García, who had helped and attended her in the last years of her life. In 1947 they arrived in Logroño, and in May 1948, Bishop Fidel García Martínez canonically approved the Order as a Spiritual Order with the name, “Missionary Order of Jesus and Mary.”

In 1961 they were approved as an Order of Diocesan Right and, in 1981 declared of Pontifical Right. The Congregation currently has 24 houses scattered throughout Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Italy, Mozambique and Indonesia. The fame of sanctity of the most revered Mother M. Pilar Izquierdo Albero has grown to such a state that the Bishop of Calahorra and La Calzada Logroño, monsignor Francisco Alvarez Martínez, saw fit to initiate the Cause for Beatification and Canonization. The Diocesan process took place from 1983 to 1988. On December 18th 2000, Pope John Paul II declared the heroic nature of her virtues and on July 7, 2001 a miracle attributed to her intercession was approved.

On November 4, 2001 Pope John Paul beatified her in a solemn ceremony in Rome.