Woman who cared for husband's executioners on road to beatification

ppseiquer130111 Maria Seiquer

Members of the Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified are praying for a miracle to move their foundress one step closer to beatification.

Maria Seiquer Gaya founded the religious order following the death of her husband during the Spanish Civil War.

The Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified are present in both Spain and Latin America.

Maria Seiquer was born in 1891 in Murcia, Spain. In 1914, she married Angel Romero, a doctor known for his honesty and dedicated service. The couple built a public chapel on their ranch in Villa Pilar where Maria taught catechism to children and her husband provided free care for the poor once a week.

When the anti-Catholic persecution reached Murcia in 1931, Angel decided to enter politics to defend the Church. He soon became the target of violent attacks.

In August of 1936, he was captured and held in prison. Maria was able to visit him twice in jail where he told her:  “They think they are sacrificing us, and they don’t realize that what they are doing is glorifying us.” She then revealed her intention to devote herself to God.  “If they don’t kill me too, I promise you I will enter the convent,” she promised him.

Angel was shot and killed only weeks after he was detained.

Maria was forced to flee Murcia because of fear for her own life.  While away, she met a woman named Amalia Martin de la Escalera who returned with her to Villa Pilar once the country's civil war ended. Together they founded the first convent of the Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified.

“I forgive all my enemies, I pray for them and I desire to forgive all those who have done me wrong,” she wrote.  The community of sisters took to teaching children, feeding the poor and visiting the elderly and the sick in nearby towns. 

Among those they visited were the executioners of her husband.

Numerous witnesses confirm that until her death in 1975, Maria cared for one of the women who denounced her husband. She saw furniture that was once hers in the homes of the sick under her care, but never said a word. Maria cared for the son of the anti-Catholic militant who dragged her husband’s body through the streets, aware of who he was. She also frequently appeared in court pleading that her husband’s killers be spared the death penalty.

In her writings she said, “I have only done what Christ has taught me: Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Maria, together with Sister Amalia, the order's co-foundress, is buried next to her husband Angel in the cemetery near the chapel at Villa Pilar.

Canonization cause

Mother Maria Seiquer’s cause for canonization was opened in 1989.  The diocesan phase was completed two years later. “Now we are waiting for a miracle so that Rome will approve the beatification,” Sister Alicia, the superior of the order, told CNA. 

“She always believed that the people who killed her husband did so out of ignorance and not malice.  She gave them land, homes and her care. For this reason, in the 1980s people began to call for her beatification,” Sister Alicia said.

The congregation, which celebrated its 36th anniversary since receiving papal approval, works in towns and villages assisting the poor.

More in Europe

Sister Alicia said she hopes a miracle will take place in Latin America, where “the people turn to God more than they do in Spain.”

The Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified are present in 19 communities in Spain, and have homes in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia and Peru.

The order's charism is “to be identified with Christ Crucified” by seeking to adopt the same attitudes of Christ by “loving, forgiving, showing compassion for every human misery, offering ourselves to the Father and consecrating with Him our entire lives to God, for the good of the entire Church.”

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