Blessed Maria Sagrario, OC VM (AC)
Born at Lillo, Spain, January 8, 1881; died at San Isidro, Spain, on August 15, 1936; beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 8, 1997. Elvira Moragas Cantarero, the third of the four children born to Ricardo Moragas and Isabel Cantarero, was one of the first women in Spain to earn a degree in pharmacy--and she did it with distinction. Her father was appointed the pharmaceutical purveyor to the royal household and moved his family to Madrid in 1886.
Although Elvira had a distinguish career planned, especially after her father's death, she felt that God was calling her to a religious vocation. She delayed entering the convent on the advice of her spiritual director in order to care for her younger brother. Finally, in 1915, she became a postulant in Madrid at the Carmel of Saints Anne and Joseph. She took the name Maria Sagrario of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga when she was received into the novitiate on December 21, 1915. Her time of testing was completed with her temporary profession on Christmas Eve, 1916, and solemn vows on Epiphany in 1920.
In April 1927 she was elected prioress; later she served as novice mistress. Frequently she expressed her desire to die a martyr. Two weeks before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Sister Maria Sagrario was again elected prioress (July 1, 1936). Religious persecution followed. The convent was attacked on July 20 by an angry mob. The prioress sent her daughters into safety and herself took refuge with another in the home of the sister's parents, despite her brother's pleas to come to him. They hid there until their arrest by the rebels on August 14.
Throughout the period of her arrest and interrogation, Maria Sagrario remained serene, totally surrendered to God's will as documented in the testimony required for her beatification. She refused to reveal anything to the secret police or betray anyone. This refusal led to her execution by gunfire at the Pradera of San Isidro.