The foundress of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was born on the 1st of March, 1850, the seventh child in a comfortable family in Pedro Abad, a small town 24 mile from Cordoba in southern Spain.
Raphaela Mary Porras y Ayllón was born in Pedro Abad, Spain, on the 1st of March, 1850, into a profoundly Christian family. In 1875, she and her sister, Pilar, entered the Novitiate of the Society of Mary Reparatrix. The time spent there made a deep impression on their lives and was a preparation for God’s plan over them. Generously open to this design of God, they welcomed it with love and fidelity, and in 1877 founded the Institute of Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Raphaela Mary was a woman of a single love. Christ in the Eucharist was the centre of her existence; she lived in profound communion with Him, entering into His plan of universal reconciliation. She spent many hours of her life in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, allowing herself to be transformed by Him, so that the world became converted for her into a great temple, where she worshipped the Lord of History in spirit and truth.
This eucharistic dynamism led her to create communities founded on union and the joy of serving so great a Lord. She loved her Sisters tenderly and never faltered in giving everything to build communion among them.
With her passion for the interests of Christ’s Heart, she was determined that his saving and reparative love should reach everyone, the whole of humanity. So, from the very first moment, she wanted her Institute to be dedicated to education in the service of the Gospel and to be “universal like the Church”, always giving preference to the poor and simple.
Whilst she was guiding the Institute, she based her government on love and respect for the Sisters and on faithfulness to the mission received. Then, during the long years of hidden life in Rome, identified with Christ on the cross, she passed on the living spirit of her total gift of self, a genuine Handmaid of the Lord: free, humble, valiant, dedicated.
She died in Rome on the 6th of January, 1925. On the 23rd of January, 1977, Pope Paul VI proclaimed that this woman had lived the Gospel with all its consequences. From then on, we invoke her as Saint Raphaela Mary of the Sacred Heart.