Blessed Maria Caridad Brader was born in Kaltburn, Switzerland in 1860. Her family was extremely pious, and when her mother, a widow, discovered that Maria was extremely intelligent, she made every effort to give her the best education.

Against her mother’s wishes, Maria entered a Franciscan convent in 1880, and made her final vows two years later. She taught for several years at the convent school. At the turn of the century, cloistered nuns became permitted to work as missionaries, and Maria volunteered to be the first of six sisters to go to Ecuador.

In Ecuador, Maria was a teacher and catechist, until, in 1893, she was transferred to Columbia. That same year, she founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Columbia, in response to the great need for missionaries. She was super until 1919, and then again from 1928-1940.

Maria encouraged her sisters to combine contemplation and action with great care for those they ministered to. She also placed an emphasis on the value of education, for both sisters and the students.

Blessed Maria died in 1943 in Columbia, and her grave became a popular pilgrimage site. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003.