July 24, 2008
Blessed Maria Mercedes Prat
1880-1936 – Optional Memorial – July 24
Mercedes Prat was born on March 6, 1880, in Barcelona, Spain, baptized on the following day. Her parents Juan and Teresa died while she was still a child. She made her first Holy Communion in a school of the Society of Saint Teresa of Jesus on June 30th, 1890. From her childhood she gave herself completely to God, whom she received every day in Communion. She displayed a great love for her neighbor and tried to foster this kind of love in others. During her years in school, she was known for her goodness and her dedication to school work, excelling especially in painting and needlework, which were areas in which she had a natural talent. As an orphan and the eldest daughter, she combined successfully her prayer life, her responsibilities in the home, her artistic talent and her apostolate as a catechist and a member of the Teresian Arch-confraternity. Entering the novitiate of the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus in 1904, in Tortosa, she made her temporary profession in 1907. She was a religious "according to the heart of God:" prudent and truthful, calm and gentle in her reactions, having a natural goodness in all her dealing with others, but firm in character. God was her one love, and her love for God kept growing to the point where she would give her life for Him. In 1920 she was assigned to the motherhouse in Barcelona. From there the path to martyrdom began on July 19, 1936, when the community was forced to give up the school and flee. On July 23, because she was a religious, Sr. Mercedes was arrested and shot; she died in the early morning of July 24.
"A True Teresian" - This is how she was described by one of the Sisters with whom she lived. She was a religious "according to the heart of God": prudent and truthful, calm and gentle in her reactions, having a natural goodness in all her dealings with others, but firm in character. God was her one love, and her love for God kept growing to the point where she would give her life for Him. Mercedes was living in an attitude of submission to the will of God at the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. It was in the month of July 1936 that she was given the opportunity to witness to the depth of her love of God and self-surrender. When asked by the militia to identify herself, she replied that she was a Religious and a teacher. "Do you realize that you can be shot for that?" Mercedes and the sister who was with her were well aware of it. "They are going to kill us," she had said, when leaving the Mother House. "But let us go, I must obey, because it is the will of God."
"An Angel of Sorrow" - Hours of anguish followed, with questioning, threats and pretense of shooting. The 23rd of July was a long day for Mercedes and her companion. Finally, at dawn on July 24th, on the road to Rabasada, the firing squad found her with a prayer on her lips. A few shots rang out. Mortally wounded, she repeated between cries of pain: "Jesus, Joseph, Mary."
Her last words were those of the Our Father: "Forgive us...as we forgive..." To the Sister who closed her eyes she seemed "an angel of sorrow."