Mary Julia Seelaus was born August 5, 1923, the second of eight children, in Philadelphia, PA. She attended Holy Child grade school, and Little Flower High School of Fine Arts. When she graduated, Mary Julia–a talented artist–was hired to do women’s fashion art displays, but a flame that was the love of God burned in her heart, and she soon formed a group of Young Christian Workers, similar to the movement in France at the time. One day, as she was riding home on the subway from her Christian Worker meeting, she heard a definite call to Carmel in her heart.
So, Mary Julia became a Discalced Carmelite nun, and her name became Sr. Miriam of the Mystical Body, OCD. She said that “The discovery of the doctrine of the Mystical Body was a great grace for me. Our loving God and Father has created each of us to be another humanity for Jesus.” One of her favorite Scripture passages was “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
Anyone who had the great privilege of knowing this tiny, cloistered nun, knew of her great love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, which she shared with everyone. Sr. Miriam was that part of the Mystical Body who adored and loved the Face of Jesus, to make up for those souls who are indifferent to God, or even hate God. In her little New Testament, now yellowed and falling apart, St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians are doubly underlined, “God’s plan…is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.” (Eph. 1:10) A small picture of the Shroud of Turin (glued to a piece of cardboard, with a hanger carefully cut from duct tape) which belonged to Sr. Miriam, is worn through the surface of the photo, from the top of Jesus’s forehead to His chin, by a thousand kisses bestowed on His Holy Face as evidence of her faithful love and the desire to make reparation for those who did not love Him.
Her eyes sparkled when she spoke of Jesus, and one had the distinct impression that He was always at her side, because Sr. Miriam had the habit of addressing her Beloved out loud. If you asked her for prayers for someone, she would immediately implore Him, in her sweet voice, “O Jesus! Help them!”
Before Sr. Miriam died, at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Covington, Louisiana, she suffered, as some holy souls do, a great darkness. She felt that she was unworthy to even receive Holy Communion; she grew smaller and smaller, like a candle about to go out. The darkness passed and on June 27, 2017, her entrance into eternal life was a peaceful one. The funeral procession to her place of rest at St. Joseph’s Abbey was halted momentarily when a peacock, a symbol of the Resurrection, suddenly flew out of the woods to the middle of the road, next to the hearse which carried her precious body. The Face of Christ shone so brightly in Sr. Miriam’s soul, which remained always close to the Vine, that it cannot help but continue to bear good fruit. Sr. Miriam, pray for us!