The civil war in Spain (1936-1939) was characterized by a fierce religious persecution that cost the life of almost 12,000 Christians; among them, four of our sisters suffered martyrdom out of hatred of faith: Rosario of Soano (1863-1936), Serafina of Ochovi (1872-1936), Francisca Javier of Rafelbuñol (1901-1936) and Aurelia of Valencia (1884-1936) .
When the war broke out, they were living in the region of Valencia where the persecution was particularly strong and, as other sisters did, they left the religious house, already occupied by the soldiers and sought refuge in their own families or in other friends house because they were far from their owns, but they could not escape the fury of the militiamen who had received the order to «end with the religion.» Sister Rosario and Serafina were shot together on August 23rd, 1936 and Sister Francisca Javier, a Valencian who had taken refuge in her parents’ home, was shot together with her brother that was a priest, on September 28th of the same year. These three sisters were beatified on March 11, 2001, together with other martyrs of the same persecution by the Pope John Paul the second. Also Sr. Aurelia of Valencia was executed but there are not testimonies of her martyrdom, so her cause for beatification could not be introduced.
Even in the secrecy that always surrounds these events, we have received some testimonies about the martyrdom of our sisters. It is said that Sr. Rosario, before her execution, took off the ring of her perpetual covenant as consecrated woman and gave it to her executioner saying: “I give it to you as a sign that I forgive you” and the young man who received it, was so impressed that he returned the ring to another imprisoned nun. A witness who knew Sr. Serafina affirms that, in difficult moments of her life, she tended to be distressed but others affirm that, in the moments that preceded her execution, she remained firm and serene and, together with Sr. Rosario, she died shouting out «Long lives Christ the King!». Sr. Francisca Javier, one day, expressed to her mother that she was afraid to die and her mother encouraged her by saying: “Don’t be afraid! If the occasion comes, the Lord will help you. My daughter, do not deny Jesus Christ who likes you to be a martyr! These words helped her to prepare herself to face the death and, before falling under the gunshot, he shouted: «May God forgive you as I do forgive you.»