Jul 20, 2022, 2:48:09 AMJul 20
July 20th – Bl. Rita Dolores Pujalte Sanchez & Companions
Born in Aspe, Spain, February 19, 1853; died July 20, 1936; beatified
recently. These eight nuns were martyrs of the Spanish Revolution.
Rita's parents, Antonio Pujalte and Luisa Sanchez, raised their five
children in a deeply Christian household. As a young girl she was a
model of piety: she belonged to the Daughters of Mary, the Third Order
of Saint Francis, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and was a
catechist as well. In 1888, she entered the Sisters of Charity of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus and took her temporary vows two years later.
Highly esteemed by her community, she was given positions of
responsibility, and the foundress, before dying in 1899, recommended
that she be elected Superior General, which she was in 1900. Mother
Rita served as superior until 1928, when she retired to devote herself
to prayer and recollection at Saint Susanna's College in Madrid.
On July 20, 1936, the revolutionaries attacked Saint Susanna's
College, battering the doors and firing shots. Aware of the danger,
all the sisters had prayed the Rosary in the chapel and then were
commending their souls. The superior asked the soldiers to allow the
blind, 83-year-old Mother Rita and the sick Sister Francisca to leave.
The two religious took refuge in a nearby apartment. Two hours later a
group of armed revolutionaries dragged the two elderly sisters down
the stairs and took them to a Madrid suburb, near the town of
Canillejas. There the soldiers forced the two sisters out of the car
and shot them. The next day the doctors performing the autopsy were
astonished that the bodies were not stiff and were emitting an
indescribable perfume. When the bodies were exhumed in 1940 to be
taken to the Almudena cemetery in Madrid, the doctors and other
witnesses said that the bodies were still flexible and retained the
color of the living. Because of their reputations for holiness, in
1954 their uncorrupted bodies were taken to Villaverde, near Madrid,
and installed in the chapel of their institute's college.
Six Visitation nuns also joyfully faced martyrdom for the Catholic
faith. They all came from devout Christian families and were all
members of the Madrid house of the Order of the Visitation of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, founded in France in 1610 by St. Francis de Sales
and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.
The religious persecution intensified in early 1936. Realizing the
danger of remaining in Madrid, the Visitation community moved to
Oronoz, leaving behind a group of six nuns in the charge of Sister
Maria Gabriela do Hinojosa. By July they were confined to their
apartment, where they enjoyed relative peace. However, an
antireligious neighbor reported them to the authorities; their freedom
was curtailed, their belongings confiscated, and arrests followed.
Nevertheless, they refused to seek refuge in the consulates to save
their lives. Their fervor was stronger than the threat of death.
When their apartment was searched on November 17, they expressed a
desire to die for the faith, exclaiming: "What a joy, martyrdom is not
far off!" and spent the night in prayer. The following evening, a
patrol of the Iberian Anarchist Federation broke into the apartment
and ordered all the sisters to leave. The majestic serenity of the
nuns contrasted strikingly with the noisy mob. They were taken by van
to a vacant area. As they held hands, a barrage of gunfire shattered
their bodies, except for the 26-year-old Maria Cecilia, who had
unwittingly started to run when she felt the sister next to her fall.
Moments afterwards she surrendered, declaring herself a nun. Five days
later she was shot at the cemetery wall in Vallecas on the outskirts
"I know a great deal of Greek and Latin learning. I have still to
learn even the alphabet of how to be a saint."
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory in
Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little, will himself perfect
you and confirm you and establish you. (1Pe 5:10) DRB
The everlasting God has in His
Wisdom foreseen from eternity,
the cross He now presents to
you as a gift from His
innermost heart. This cross He
now sends you He has
considered with his all-knowing
eyes, understood with His
divine mind, tested with His
wise justice, warmed with
loving arms and weighted with
His own hands to see that it
not be one ounce too heavy for
you. He has blessed it with His
Holy Name, anointed it with His
grace, perfumed it with his
consolation, and taken one last
glance at you and your courage
-- has sent it to you from
heaven, a special greeting
from God to you, an alms of
the all merciful love of God.
--St. Frances de Sales