Mother Veronica, nee Sophie Leaves, was born in 1823 in a pious, cultured, English Anglican family. She was gifted with singular talents of mind and heart which were nurtured by sound education and wide experience. Inspite of her mother’s strong opposition she embraced the Catholic faith in 1850. God took possession of her heart so powerfully that she first broke off her engagement to a marine officer, whom she loved, and then responded generously to the call to religious life. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St.Joseph of the Apparition in 1851, taking the name, Sister Mary Veronica of the Passion.
Mother Veronica was ardent and full of zeal to work for the mission in India, when she was sent to found a house of the Congregation at Calicut in 1862. She responded to an inner call and under the guidance of Fr. Marie Ephrem O.C.D discovered her vocation to found a Third Order Regular of active Carmelites to serve the need of faith-formation through education of young
girls of west coast of India. After receiving the required permission from Rome, Mother Veronica painfully left her congregation to enter the Carmel of Pau, France in 1867. On completion of her novitiate and first profession, she left Pau and founded the Apostolic Carmel at Bayonne, France in 1868 after facing many hardships in her relentless search for God’s will.
The first group of Apostolic Carmelites arrived in India in 1870 and were established in the Diocese of Mangalore. Unfavourable circumstance obliged Mother Veronica to close the convent at Bayonne in 1873, after which she re-entered the Carmel of Pau as a Cloistered Carmelite. After a period of 12 years in a new foundation at Bethlehem, Mother Veronica returned to Pau in 1887. Her life of loving surrender to God in challenging circumstances culminated in her holy death in 1906. She was declared venerable on 9th July 2014 by Holy Father Pope Francis.
The Apostolic Carmel grew and developed steadily and today it has approximately 2000 sisters in its 165 houses spread all over India and abroad engaged in the Apostolic work of teaching and other works of charity.