Wednesday, June 05, 2013
In Southwark Archdiocese we have a Convent of "Siervas de Maria", Handmaids of Mary, for whom I would occasionally say Mass, hear confessions or preach a retreat when I was close by in Balham. The Holy Father has recently announced that he will soon beatify four of their number who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War. This Congregation looks after the sick at night to give their family a break. They don't run schools or chaplaincies. They just care for the sick. They were assassinated because hatred towards religion had been fostered in the popular mind. This is what happened:
From 1934 until 18th July 1936, the day the Spanish Civil War broke out, fifty Catholic clergy had been assassinated in Spain. The outbreak of the War coincided with a systematic and wide scale massacre of priests and religious none of whom were combatants. By 14th September that year the authorities had presided over the assassination of 3,400 priests and religious.
On 21st November 1936, the Siervas de Maria in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid, decided to leave their convent, splitting up into smaller groups and take refuge in the homes of friendly families. They were subject to surveillance and were not able to stay in touch with each other. They were not allowed to wear their religious habit. One of them, Sr Aurora, after 62 years as a nun burst into tears at being made to wear lay clothes.
Eventually the militia decided to arrest them and attacked the house where four of the nuns were living. The family reported afterwards that they were terribly insulted and abused by the attackers but that Sr Daria spoke up to them: "Yes, we are indeed religious. You can do what you want with us but we ask you not to harm this family, they saw us homeless and had the authority of the Pozuelo Committee to receive us in their charity".
The youngest nun Sr Agustina wasn't caught with the other three and joined a family that fled to Las Rozas, another district near Madrid, but while she was there someone betrayed her to the authorities and she was arrested. The charge against her was that she was a religious and that she had been seen praying. She was assassinated on 5h December, the day before the martyrdom of her three sisters.
There was no political or military gain to be had in shooting four nuns, tow of whom were elderly and one of whom was paralysed. They were killed because hatred of the faith had been fostered in the hearts of the people.
The liberal democracy had given way to a dictatorship of relativism in which there was no room for religious faith.