Ybarra de Villalonga, Rafaela, Bl.

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Widow, mother, and foundress of the Institute of Holy Guardian Angels; b. Bilbao, Spain, Jan. 16, 1843;d. Bilbao, Feb. 23, 1900. Born into a noble, pious family, Rafaela married while still young. With the approval of her husband, she pronounced vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience (1890). In order to assist abandoned girls, she founded the Holy Guardian Angels (Dec. 8, 1894) with three other women. Although her duties as the mother of seven children prevented her from living in community, Rafaela directed the formation of the first nuns, organized the community, built its first residential school in Bilbao at her own expense (1899), and wrote its first Rule. The institute provides moral and economic support for disadvantaged youth, especially young women, through schools and residences. Rafaela, known for her social conscience and activity, died at age fifty-seven following a serious illness. Pope John Paul II beatified her, Sept. 30, 1984.

Feast: March 8.

Bibliography: j. e. schenk, Rafaela Ybarra (Valencia, Spain 1984). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1984): 1104. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 44 (1984): 67.

[k. i. rabenstein]