The Martyr Sisters of the 20th century

In Spain, between 1936 and 1939, a religious persecution took place and a total 13 bishops, 5,255 priests, 2,669 religious and many lay people were murdered. Hundreds have already been beatified, others have been canonized. There are still many awaiting the hour of the official recognition of their martyrdom. On Sunday 13th October, 2013, in Tarragona (Spain), the beatification will take place of approximately 500 Spaniards, witnesses of the Faith. Among them are 27 Daughters of Charity and a Daughter of Mary who will be beatified with our Sisters.

They were completely dedicated to God to serve Him in the poor, faithful to the Gospel and the charism of the Company. They knew that any day, Jesus’ prophecy could be fulfilled:

Remember what I have told you: The servant is not more than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

(Jn 15,20)

Martyrs of the faith

Foreseeing the persecution coming, they prayed with faith to have the force of the Holy Spirit. And they were fed and strengthened with the force of the Eucharist that prepared them to witness to their Faith, Hope and Charity. Their crime was to be Daughters of Charity dedicated to heal, cure, educate, welcome, guide and do good deeds, as Jesus of Nazareth did. They were not involved in any political doings; they were persecuted only for their condition of being women consecrated to God, for being Daughters of Charity.

During the thirty years following their martyrdom the blood of these Sisters was the seed of vocations. We hope that the awareness of their witness of faith will open new furrows and germinate new seeds of Faith and Charity. The point is to change the direction of the materialism and comfort into ways of faith and happiness in the commitment of “leaving everything” to be apostles of Charity.

Their names, mission, places and dates of martyrdom:

Leganes (Madrid), La Inmaculada School († 12.08.1936): Sisters M. Adoration Cortés, Maria Diaz-brown S. and Stefanie Saldaña. Psychiatric Hospital Santa Isabel: Sisters M. Dolores Barroso and Asunción Mayoral (the last took refuge there, but came from the Home for the Blind in Madrid).

Anti-tuberculosis Hospital El Neveral, Jaen, where they were persecuted and shot in the ” death train” in the town of Vallecas († 12.08.1936): Sisters Ramona Cao Fernandez and Juana Perez Abascal.

San Eugenio Asylum – Valencia, refugees in Puzol (Valencia) in the family home of one of them, where they assisted at the Eucharist celebrated by a Franciscan, also a refugee. This was the cause of their death († 18.08.1936): Sisters Rosario Ciercoles, Mª Luisa Bermudez and Sister Micaela Herman.

House Mercy – Albacete, expelled by the authorities and threatened to death, they took refuge in Madrid, in the house of the Sister superior’s relative. Three of them looked for help at another sister’s family in Vallecas. They were not received and were brutally martyred († 03.09.1936): Sisters Dolores Caro, Andrea Calle and Concepción Perez Giral.

Hospital and Schools of Segorbe (Castellon), the community was expelled; they took refuge in an old pupil’s home. When Sister Martina Vazquez, the superior, was arrested she requested that the other Sisters be spared and they were let go. She was the only martyr here († 04.10.1936).

General Hospital – Valencia, the community was expelled and dissolved; Sister Josefa Martinez Pérez took refuge in his family home in Alberique (Valencia). Her family was persecuted and she offered herself to die for her sister, a widower, because her husband has already been killed and she was expecting a child. They accepted her offer and she died martyr of Faith and Charity († 15.10.1936).

House of Charity– Valencia, the Sisters were thrown from the house. Some of them took refuge in one of their family’s home. In this house were also two priests as refugees. They celebrated the Eucharist secretly. This was their crime and the cause of the martyrdom in Gilet (Valencia) of Sisters Joaquina Rey and Victoria Arregui († 29.10.1936).

Maternal Hospital Santa Cristina – Madrid, Sisters Modesta Moro Briz and Pilar Isabel Sanchez Suarez suffered martyrdom here. They had taken refuge in a hostel in the centre of Madrid; on the Feast of All Saints they wished to assist to the Eucharist. When leaving the house they were arrested and condemned to die by a popular Tribunal (31.10.1936).

Atocha and Carabanchel Hospitals – Madrid, Sisters Josefa Girones Arteta and Lorenza Diaz Bolaños confronted with immoral propositions from their persecutors were killed for their fidelity to their Faith and vocation († 22.11.1936).

El Carmen School of Betera – Valencia. The community took refuge in a hostel in Valencia. Dolores Broseta, Daughter of Mary, brought them a meal every day that former students prepared for the Sisters. One day the militias who were looking for the sisters followed her and found the Sisters. The whole community was murdered: Sisters Josefa Laborra, Carmen Rodríguez Barazal, Estefanía Irisarri, Pilar Nalda, Isidora Izquierdo and Mª Dolores Broseta the former school girl who brought them food. († 09.12.1936).

– From Puerto Rico to Madrid and from Madrid to Heaven: Sister Gaudencia Benavidaes Herrero, having been a missionary for a long time in Puerto Rico, arrived in Spain to care of her cardiac illness. Identified as a nun, she was arrested. She was put in three different jails where she suffered very bad treatment. Her body was covered with wounds and she was denied the necessary medical care. She died giving testimony to Jesus Christ and forgiving her persecutors († 11.02.1937).

Our martyrs died confessing with courage their faith in Jesus Christ, forgiving their persecutors and putting their lives into Our Father’s hand. They witnessed Christ with their lives, their actions and in following his teachings. They preferred to die before renouncing Him. Now the Church will beatify them, so we can learn how to live our faith with the same audacity and courage.