Blessed Sister Melchora Adoración Cortés Bueno,
Martyr Beatified in Tarragona on October 13, 2013
“The Company of the Daughters of Charity is one of the jewels of the Church of God. I’m not saying it’s the most beautiful, but one of its jewels.” (Sister Susana Guillemin, Superioress General)
LET’S SEE this was understood and lived by the martyred, beatified sister
A high-flying girl: Melchora Adoración is the fifth of a large Christian family of seven children, four girls and three boys. Born on January 4th1894 in Sos (Zaragoza); her parent’s Jerónimo Cortés, shepherd, and Eusebia Bueno, housewife, decided that she be baptized three days later. Both provided their children with a solid Christian education at home and sent them to a Catholic school. The girls to the Daughters of Charity School and the boys to the Aesculapius school.
Melchora Adoration had an alert intelligence, an open and communicative character, dreaming to fly high, thinking to be a well-educated Christian woman. As a child she cultivated her faith, both in her family and in the school of the Daughters of Charity. In her adolescence she sought, desired and acquired a broad education. She learned to read and write correctly, Mathematics, Accounting and she did a Home Duties Master. She showed a particular ability to draw and paint from a young age. A picture of the Immaculate Mary (copy of the famous painter Murillo) and several prints painted by her are preserved. When she was thirteen, according to the custom of the time, she received her first Holy Communion. Sister Josefa Alba, her teacher and catechist, instilled in her a solid devotion to the Eucharist.
Sealed by the Marian imprint: As a student at the Daughters of Charity School she received the hallmark of a Marian devotion. She prayed several times a day and invoked Mary as the mother of children, youth and the poor. During her adolescence she was a member of the of Children of Mary of the Miraculous Medal Association of the College in which she participated in a committed and responsible way. Her friends and companions state that she was pious and very sensitive to the needs of the poor persons. In this atmosphere of piety and popular devotion she felt the call of the Lord to consecrate fully herself to God and to serve him in the person of the needy.
Vocation and apostolate: Encouraged by her confessor and her paternal aunt, Sister Patrocinio Fernandez Cortés, Daughter of Charity, she left the village and went as aspirant to Sangüesa (Navarra) where she studied a Teaching career. On March 18, 1914 she joined the Company of the Daughters of Charity, after having completed Postulate at Sangüesa Hospital at 20 years old.
The Spanish Province had at the time 666 Communities and 6,425 sisters. She was received in the Company by Sister Josefa Bengoechea, Visitatrice; Sister Úrsula Tablado was her Seminary Directrice and the venerable Sister Justa Domínguez, assistant formator. She based her vocation deepening in her spiritual life, the knowledge of the Gospels, Catechism, our Founders teachings and the Rules of the Company. During her Seminary time (Noviciate) she discovered and strengthened her great loves: Jesus Christ, Our Lady, the Church and the poor.
After the Seminary at 21 years old, she was assigned to Riquelme School at Granada where she was only for a few months. Health reasons determined her transfer to Asilo School at Aleixar (Tarragona). There she worked several years as a teacher and she prepared herself to ratify her dedication to God by the vows, that she first made on March 25, 1919. The next day she wrote to her sister Encarnación sending her a picture with this beautiful prayer written by her:
“I consecrated myself to God and He deigned to accept my consecration. What goodness he has! What a joy for me! How will I pay the Lord such an honorable mercy? … He does not need me at all. I cannot give him anything that is not his … But there are so many girls who need Christian instruction and education! And what I do for them, the Lord receives it as if was done to Him. He loves them so much! … And as I suffer for them, the Lord will reward me as if I were suffering for Him; Yes, for Him who suffered so much for me … My God, while I have a moment of life I will use it to take them to You! … I will be blessed a thousand times if through me many will love, serve … and glorify you eternally in Heaven. Bring me their prayers, Lord, and your infinite mercy. Amen.”
These dispositions of her youth were strengthened over the years. Her students and fellow community members saw her as a cheerful, fervent person, lover of her vocation, hardworking, creative, obedient to superiors and very patient with students. From Aleixar she was sent to Corella (Navarra) Hospital and School developing there her educational work
An encouraging friendship: In 1924 she was sent to Immaculate College at Leganes, where she met Sister Maria Severina Díaz-Pardo. Sister Melchora Adoracion was appointed teacher of Primary Education School and headmistress. Sister Maria Severina, who had studied teaching and music, assumed the responsibility of youth ministry: The Association of the Children of Mary, the choir and a theatre group with the older students. Then came a sincere and deep friendship that enriched the Community and promoted collaboration.
Sister Melchora Adoration had leadership qualities. With her way of motivating and teaching she attracted young women and encouraged them in good practices and to follow Jesus Christ. During these years she organized, with Sister Maria, a choir, a theatre group, visits to the poor, summer camps, pilgrimages to Marian shrines and catechist’s groups in El Salvador Parish Church.
After nine years in Leganes at the beginning of 1933 she was sent as a teacher, to Vitoria Hospice. Within a few weeks she became ill and her right kidney has to be removed. Her aunt, Sister Patrocinio Fernandez Cortés, who knew the doctors of Zamora Hospital, and aware that sisters did not have Social Security or economic possibilities for a surgical intervention, requested that Sister Melchora be sent to Zamora for her surgery. During her convalescence she did nursing studies and obtained an official degree in Salamanca medical school.
Former students, parents and the community of Leganes school insisted on her return. The superiors agreed and, from September 5, 1934 she was again in Leganes. She was received with joy by the Community and people. She taught, as she did before, older students, ran sewing workshops, gave dressmaking courses and taught painting … She performed well as a teacher and as a School Headmistress. Her students described her: “Sister Adoracion had the grace to give us what we needed without humiliating us … She taught us how to sew, to pray, and how to treat the ladies. We also did theatre, she was very joyful and encouraged the parties … In face of adversity, she said: “Do not worry, in the Kingdom of Heaven, the last are going to be first” …She exercised charity with neighbours and not only served the poor who came to the door, but the girls who could not pay … She helped needy people in a pleasant and prudent way, without humiliating those who received her help.”
The sanctity of value of small things and everyday gestures: This is the secret that would lead her to give her life in fidelity to Jesus Christ. Sister Mary, her companion, admired her ability and zeal and, above all, the enthusiasm in the small loyalties and gestures of each day. “Now Sister Adoration,” she says in one of her letters, “is preparing and motivating the girls for their First Holy Communion catechizing also their mothers to go to confession. They do this to fulfil their Easter duties, since many of them have not done so since they were married.” She invited young women to belong to the Children of Mary Association, she taught them to pray and to question themselves about their fidelity to God’s plan for them. She loved Mary and worked with determination to extend her devotion among families, spreading the Miraculous Medal. From 1930 to 1936 she was Directrice of the Association of the Children of Mary.
Preparation for martyrdom: During the persecution, she remained firm in faith. This was asserted by one of the witnesses of the process: “I heard a psychiatric militiaman saying, when they threw out the Sisters from Leganes, that they proposed Sister Adoracion, a young and very good looking school teacher, that she dress in lay clothing and remain with them. And she replied that she will go where her sisters go.” And she went to a boarding house in Arenal street in Madrid. Thus she prepared herself for martyrdom, united to Christ in prayer, the Eucharist and at the service of others. Sister Melchora gave her life at 42 years of age at Puerta de Hierro, in Madrid, for her fidelity to Christ and his Gospel, forgiving those who took her life.