Molas y Vallvé, María Rosa Doloribus Francisca, St.

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Foundress of the Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation (Hermanas de Nuestra Señora de la Consolación ); b. Reus (near Tarragona), northeastern Spain, March 24, 1815; d. Tortosa, Spain, June 11, 1876.

María Rosa, the daughter of craftsmen who owned a small shop, postponed her entry into religious life to tend her father's household after her mother's death from cholera. As Sister María Rosa, she joined an association of pious workers at the hospital in Reus (1841). Because of her practical intelligence, she was sent (1849) to Tortosa as superior of the House of Mercy. She reorganized and modernized the facility and procedures to improve the care given to its 300 mentally ill patients.

When she discovered that her congregation had no ties to any ecclesiastical authority and was unassociated with the Daughters of Charity, she placed herself (1957) and her 11 sisters under the jurisdiction of the local bishop. Her spirit of communion and ecclesiastical obedience birthed a new congregation: the Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation. The sisters, formally constituted as a congregation in 1868, dedicated themselves to providing health and educational services; however, María Rosa wrote the Rule to allow the order to respond to other needs of the Church.

She herself mediated disputes and even crossed a battleline to negotiate a cease fire during an attack on Reus. In Tortosa she established 10 houses and 17 hospitals, schools, and shelters for the poor before her death. By the late 20th century the order had 796 members in 84 houses in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, and Venezuela.

María Rosa was beatified (May 8, 1977) by Pope Paul VI and canonized (December 11, 1988) by John Paul II.

Feast: June 11.

Bibliography: j. m. javierre, María Rosa Molas, una mujer misericordiosa (Madrid 1975). m. t. sales, Fiamme sull'Ebro: vita della m. Maria Rosa Molas (Milan 1969). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Rome 1977) 606; (1989) 98. L'Osservatore Romano English edition 20 (1977) 25.

[k. i. rabenstein]