Our Foundress – St. Raphaela Mary
Our Center is named after the foundress of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Raphaela Mary. A truly amazing and forward-thinking woman, her life continues to be relevant for all people in today’s world. Almost “by accident” she became the leader and inspiration of a group of young Spaniards who made up the founding nucleus of the Handmaids in 1877. St. Raphaela embodied the characteristics which still define a Handmaid today.
In Raphaela, we know a woman with two great passions: deep love for the Eucharistic Christ and for all of God’s people, particularly the poor. She spent hours in silent, Eucharistic adoration and also wanted everyone to “know and love God.”
Raphaela was a woman who was formed by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Hence, part of her vision of service to others was for her Sisters to be involved in retreat work, welcoming individuals or groups for the Spiritual Exercises, for prayer, reflection, and other spiritual programs. She even encouraged the Sisters to be ready to give up their own rooms to accommodate those wishing to make a retreat, should there not be enough beds in our centers. A woman ahead of her time, she utilized the contemporary notion of “marketing” to promulgate Handmaid retreats throughout the local parishes.
Raphaela responded to Christ’s love with total generosity. As she travelled along the path of the Ignatian magis – "loving Christ more dearly and following Him more nearly”- she continued to grow in her burning desire to love and embrace whatever he loved and embraced. The whole story of Raphaela’s friendship, her love affair with God, which began when she was still a child, contains some really thrilling chapters.
Learn more about St. Raphaela Mary's life and pray with her in the document "Adoration with Saint Raphaela Mary."