For Today’s Feast of the Spanish Carmelite Martyrs

spanish martyrs

These three Discalced Carmelite Nuns, were among the first of the valiant witnesses to be martyred for their faith in Christ during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Blessed Maria Pilar of Saint Francis Borgia, aged 58, Blessed Teresa of the Child Jesus, aged 27, and Sister Maria Angeles, aged 31, were prepared for their heroic deed by the life of prayer and penance they had led in the Carmelite monastery of Guadalajara. All three nuns felt called to Carmel at a young age. The oldest of the martyrs, Blessed Maria Pilar, entered the Guadalajara Carmel at the age of twenty. Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus felt called at the age of thirteen, and entered the Carmel of Guadalajara when she was only sixteen. Sister Maria Angeles, although she felt called to be a Carmelite almost her whole life, had to wait until she was twenty-four years old to enter the Guadalajara Carmel. She spent only seven years there before she was martyred. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, all of the nuns in the Guadalajara Carmel were ready and willing to die for their faith.

Sister Maria Angeles expressed a very deep desire to suffer and die for Christ, as did Sister Teresa. Sister Maria Pilar, just a day or two before her martyrdom, asked Our Lord that if He should desire a victim, He should allow her to be the one to be martyred, and spare the rest of her community. On July 22, 1936, the anti-religious havoc that the war was causing in Guadalajara reached the point where the Carmelites had to put on modest secular clothes and leave their convent to hide with their friends in the city.

On July 24, as Sister Maria Pilar, Sister Teresa, and Sister Maria Angeles were searching for a safer hideout, they were discovered by the militia and gunned down. Sister Maria Angeles was the first to die, and had no time to speak before she fell. Sister Maria Pilar was badly wounded, and suffered for a while before her death, saying during that time, “Forgive them, Lord, for they do not know what they are doing.” Sister Teresa was the last to die, and she did so crying out, “Long live Christ the King!” She had wanted to die with these words on her lips. We celebrate their feast on 24 July the very day on which they gave up their lives for Christ.

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