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The secular culture hates Christ and those who follow him. As we sink further into depravity, will God call us to martyrdom like the 10,000 Christians executed in the Spanish Civil War only 75 years ago? Listen to the Visitandine nuns, martyrs of Madrid, and pray for their courage. Quotes are from the book, And They Gave Their Lives, by Sr. Martina Lopez.
Sr. Maria Gabriela de Hinojosa, Mother Superior of the Visitandine sisters dispersed the large community of nuns to their other houses in Spain and Europe as persecution against the Church escalated. She was a timid soul, yet she led her little band to a brave martyrdom. Near the end she wrote in coded language to her sisters. “The invalid [Spain] is not getting better at all; since she became ill, she has never been in such a bad state and we fear a very sad end; but be tranquil: God our Lord, in Whose hands we find ourselves will do all that is good for us.”
Sr. Maria Ines Galdeano knew martyrdom was a real possibility when the other sisters left. Only seven stayed in Madrid. As the sisters said good-bye, she told one of them, “Pray very much for us; we could be put to death.”
Sr. Teresa Maria Cavestany obviously had no expectation of a martyr’s death when she wrote words of sacrifice during her early religious life. “Sometimes the heart’s blood is shed drop by drop, and that is a good martyrdom to offer to the Divine Heart, inasmuch as we shall not be worthy of the other martyrdom. I am sure of this: Our Lord would give us His grace if He offered us the occasion of offering Him our life. And is there anything more desirable?...But it would be too much for a poor sinner like me, and that is why we accept the shedding of our heart’s blood drop by drop, in little daily sacrifices.”
Sr. Josefa Maria Barrera: In 1936 the seven sisters were secretly living the consecrated life in an apartment near the monastery. As martyrdom loomed, Sr. Josefa wrote, “Let us profit by everything, for this is the time for great sacrifices and consequently of merit for eternal life, if we but know how to benefit by them.” Soon after, the sisters were betrayed to authorities, arrested, and shot.
Sr. Maria Cecilia Cendoya: This dear little sister, only 26-years-old, fled the scene in fear when her companion, whom she was holding by the hand, was killed. Later she was stopped and admitted she was a religious. In jail, she confided to her young cellmates, “When they make me declare myself, I will not hide it that I am a religious, because I want to die like my sisters.” Her impact on the two girls was so great, one said later, “We pray to her every day, my sister and I; she is a saint, we have no doubt.”
Sr. Maria Angela Olaizola recognized the sacrifice God had in store for them when she wrote to the sisters living at Oronoz in 1936. “We are very content, and understand better every day that this is what God asks of us. I believe that He asks all these sacrifices as a remedy for all the evil, and there is so much of it!” May we imitate these holy sisters, abandoning ourselves to Divine Providence and accepting our sufferings in atonement for “all the evil” of our own day!