Porras y Ayllón, Rafaela María, St.

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Known in religion as María of the Sacred Heart, foundress of the handmaids of the sacred heart of jesus; b. Pedro Abad (Córdoba), Spain, March 1, 1850;d. Rome, Jan. 6, 1925. She was the youngest of 13 children of well-to-do, pious parents, Ildefonso (d. 1854) and Rafaela (Ayllón y Castillo) Porras (d. 1869). She and her sister Dolores, four years her senior, became the first Spanish novices of the Society of mary reparatrix (1875). When action by the bishop of Córdoba compelled the congregation to transfer to Seville, Rafaela followed the advice of her spiritual director, José Ortiz Urruela, and remained with her sister in Córdoba. Out of this situation the Sisters of Reparation of the Sacred Heart developed as a new congregation. Rafaela established the first community in Andújar, moving it to Madrid in 1877. With the assistance of Father Cotanilla, SJ, Rafaela wrote a rule that was approved by the archbishop of Toledo. Rafaela and Dolores, who became Maria of Pilar, pronounced their vows June 8, 1877. The institute devoted itself to perpetual adoration, teaching, and catechizing in order to make reparation for the outrages against the Blessed Sacrament. In 1886, when the congregation received approval from the Holy See, it changed its name to the present one. Rafaela became the first superior general. Mother Pilar, who had charge of the temporalities, caused domestic tensions by her poor administration; yet in 1893 she succeeded her sister as superior general. Rafaela continued to dwell humbly in the convent in Rome without any position of authority. She remained there as mistress of novices after Mother Pilar was removed as superior general (1903). Rafaela was beatified May 18, 1952 and canonized Jan. 23, 1977.

Feast: Jan. 6.

Bibliography: n. birch, Saint Raphaela Mary Porras (London 1977). m. j. cabiza, La Beata Raffaela Maria del Sacro Cuore (Rome 1952). w. lawson, Bl. Rafaela Maria Porras (Dublin 1963). e. roig y pastual, La fundadora de las Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón (Rome 1952). i. yÁÑez, Cimientos para un edificio: Santa Rafaela Maria del Sagrado Corazón (Madrid 1979). Vies des saintes et des bienheuruex 13:237241. pius xii, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 44 (1952) 456460.

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