Moragas Cantarero, María Sagrario of San Luis Gonzaga, Bl.
MORAGAS CANTARERO, MARÍA SAGRARIO OF SAN LUIS GONZAGA, BL.
Baptized Elvira Moragas Cantarero; pharmacist, Discalced Carmelite martyr; b. Lillo (near Toledo), Spain, Jan. 8, 1881; d. the Pradera of San Isidro near Madrid, Aug. 15, 1936.
Elvira was the third of the four children of Isabel Cantarero and Ricardo Moragas, who was appointed pharmacist to the royal household and moved his family to Madrid in 1886. One of the first Spanish women to earn a degree in pharmacy, Elvira was planning a secular career until she felt called to religious life. Nevertheless, she delayed her response to raise her younger brother Ricardo after the deaths of their father (1909) and mother (1911) and to run the family pharmacy until he could take it over.
She was a capable, just, and charitable professional; she entered the Discalced Carmelite convent of Saints Anne and Joseph in Madrid (1915). There she began her postulancy (June 21, 1915), then took the habit and the name María Sagrario de San Luis Gonzaga upon beginning her novitiate (Dec. 21, 1915). She professed her solemn vows in 1920. She was appointed mistress of novices (April 1927), then was elected prioress (1930–33). She was again elected prioress (July 1, 1936) just before the outbreak of violence in Madrid (July 18, 1936).
When the convent was attacked (July 20, 1936), she sent her sisters to safety and hid herself with another sister in the city rather than taking refuge in her brother's house at Pinto. The two were found and arrested in the Ruiz home, August 14. The following day she was executed by firing squad for refusing to denounce others.
Her body was exhumed and translated to the convent chapel after the war. On March 8, 1997, the decree of martyrdom was signed for Mother María Sagrario. During her beatification on May 10, 1998, Pope John Paul II pointed to María Sagrario as a model for pharmacists, then referred to her martyrdom: "she found the strength not to betray priests and friends of the community, facing death with integrity for her state as a Carmelite and to save others."
Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1998), 559.
[k. i. rabenstein]