It was April 14, 1905, when Angela Ginard Marti knelt at the altar rail. Dressed all in white with hands palm to palm, she raised her head and extended her tongue to receive her First Holy Communion. It was a transformational moment for the youngster. As she brought Jesus into her heart, she knew that God was calling her to the religious life.
Angela was born on April 3, 1894, in Majorca, Spain. Already at a young age, she exhibited a spiritual quality. Her desire for the religious life was fueled not just by her devout Catholic parents, but also by her frequent journeys with her mom to visit her aunts who were both nuns.
Angela attended Mass as often as possible and made frequent visits to pray before Jesus present in the tabernacle. The example set by her aunts had a growing effect on Angela. She even began teaching her younger sisters and brothers how to pray, explaining to them the catechism and telling them stories about the saints.
Family responsibilities kept her at home until November 26, 1921. That was when Angela entered the convent of the Congregation of the Zealous Sisters of Eucharistic Adoration. She took the name of Maria de los Angeles and adapted quickly to community life. She became an example of goodness, piety, and obedience for the other sisters. There was a subtle, supernatural way about Sister Maria that all of them recognized.
Angela received her habit in May 1922, and in 1923 she made her initial profession of vows. She was moved to Madrid where she renewed them in 1926 and made her final vows in Barcelona in 1929. She became the chief embroiderer for altar linens and was in charge of preparing the unleavened bread used to make hosts. She was in love with her simple, holy life.
Sister Maria of the Angels, the lover of simplicity and a shining example of humility, was quite surprised when she was named Mother Superior of the convent in Madrid. She was there in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War erupted, and religious persecution began its ever winding, merciless assault on all things Catholic, especially clergy and religious.
Sister Maria, quite unsettled by the events and not knowing what to do, immediately began spending as much time as she could before the Blessed Sacrament. She turned her fears and anxiety over to God and even offered Him her life as a martyr if it were His will.
On July 20, 1936, she and the other sisters, using disguises, fled the convent and went into hiding. The sisters were understandably concerned about their future. Before they dispersed, Maria said to them all, “Please do not worry. All they can do is kill us, nothing more.” Amazingly, these words brought comfort.
Sister Maria was allowed to hide in the apartment of a family who lived near the convent. From the window, she could see the soldiers destroying the church, the convent, and religious objects, including all the statues. The intentional destruction of all that was dear to her sickened her. For Sister Maria, it was perhaps worse than being killed.
During the evening of Tuesday, August 25, 1936, there came pounding on the door and loud voices. The landlord’s sister opened the door and was immediately arrested.
Sister Maria of the Angels came from the other room and said sternly to the soldiers, “The woman you have taken hold of is NOT a Religious. I am the only Religious here.” They released the landlord’s sister and bound the hands of Sister Maria. She was taken to a nearby holding cell. A soldier told her, “Tomorrow you take the ‘little walk.’” Everyone knew what that meant.
This daughter of a Spanish Civil War victim became instrumental for Opus Dei
The next morning, as the sun was just peeking over the horizon, Sister Maria of the Angels took that “little walk” to Dehesa de la Villa. She stood erect facing the firing squad and was praying as the bullets ripped into her body, ending her earthly life.
Later, her body was recovered and today it rests in the chapel of the convent in Madrid. Sister Maria of the Angels was recognized as having been killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) and beatified on October 29, 2005.
Sister Maria de los Angeles, please pray for us.
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