Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Saturday 25 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

This mom of 11 made a simple prayer to Mary her life goal


88studio | Shutterstock

Larry Peterson - published on 04/28/21

She died only in 1996, after a life filled with the daily joys and sacrifices of family life.

Amparo Portilla Crespo was born in Valencia, Spain, on May 26, 1925.  She was the oldest of four siblings and would grow up to be the mother of 11 children. She would also become a national leader in apostolic work. Along with her husband, Frederick Romero, she developed and helped implement programs to help families in parishes, schools, and other institutions throughout Spain. 

During 1937, when the Spanish Civil War was raging, Amparo’s father was put in prison and executed. She was only 12, and this loss was a traumatic experience in her young life. She summoned from her deep faith and special love for the Blessed Virgin the strength she needed to get through this time of heartache. When the Civil War ended, Amparo returned to school, earned the necessary credentials, and became a catechist. 

A daily life given to God

In 1943, Amparo was awarded the Daughter of Mary medal from Sagrado Corazon High School. She chose as her motto a common prayer, Aparta, Madre, de mí lo que me aparte de Ti, which means, “Separate from me, Mother, whatever separates me from you.” She followed the message of the motto her entire life.

Amparo and Frederick Romero married in 1950 and moved to Madrid. The couple lived their Catholic marriage as God asked of them. They loved each other dearly and had 11 children together. Amparo was a loving, selfless, and caring mom and was always smiling and upbeat. Her example in daily life influenced many as to how to live a Christian life. 

Amparo managed to go to Mass almost every day, which was not easy when her children were young and at home. She taught her young ones to be kind to the poor, elderly, sick, and those in need. The Rosary was part of the family routine, and Amparo had a great devotion to Our Lady of the Forsaken, the patroness of her hometown of Valencia. She also tried to take the family on pilgrimages to as many Marian shrines as she could. 

Amparo was involved in many Catholic causes, but the most prominent was Family Apostolic Work. This became the Christian Family Movement, spread all over Spain. It was featured on some television programs, in which Amparo would promote family values and the importance of family. 

Another stage

In 1994, Amparo was feeling very tired, and the fatigue would not subside. She finally went to see her doctor. It was discovered that she had lung cancer. Amparo took the diagnosis in stride, accepting this new stage in her life surrendered to God’s will. She offered up her suffering for her children. 

Amparo had to have her right lung removed. Things seemed to be progressing well, but after 10 days, a bronchopleural fistula developed. This required another surgery, and her right side was left open for daily treatments. Amparo’s treatments were an everyday event. Yet, always working to display a smile, she endured chemotherapy, radiation treatments, radiosurgery, eight bronchoscopes, and tests for brain cancer. 

After 556 consecutive days of treatments, she finally left for Heaven. The date was May 10, 1996. She was born in May and died in May. She also had received her First Holy Communion on May 6, all in Mary’s month. Mary’s devoted servant, Amparo, was quite happy when she realized this would happen. 

Many people began asking for her intercession in their lives upon her death, and many comments started to pour in about answered prayers.

On April 24, 2021, Pope Francis, noting Amparo’s legacy of faith and love, declared her a woman of “Heroic Virtue.” She now bears the title of Venerable in her journey to sainthood. Beatification is her next step.

Venerable Amparo Portilla Crespo, please pray for us and for all families, everywhere.

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.