Biography of Genoveva Torres, Spanish religious in solidarity with the elderly in need of company in their solitude. She founded a Religious Institute to come to the aid of these women.
Childhood and family of Genoveva Torres
Genoveva Torres Morales was born on January 3, 1870 in Almenara, Castellón.
She was the youngest of the six children of José Torres and Vicenta Morales.
Genoveva’s father passed away when the girl was one year old. In 1878 her mother passed away when she was eight years old. Four of her five siblings had also died.
For this reason, Genoveva was forced to leave her studies and assume the position of housewife, also taking care of her brother José.
Her instruction was restricted to reading something in the pious books her mother had left her.
Genoveva Torres suffered very serious physical problems
In 1883, when she was barely thirteen years old, the accumulation of jobs and deprivations was undermining Genoveva Torres’ health.
When she fell ill, her severity was ignored, until a tumor appeared, which the doctor diagnosed as malignant.
The pain was so irresistible that at times she lost consciousness. Eight months of suffering passed, which the girl bravely endured. The leg was covered in sores and there was talk of amputating it.
Her brother José and an aunt agreed to have her leg amputated at thigh height, as it was the only way to save her life.
Genoveva Torres survived and became a strong, courageous and spirited woman. But, since then she had to always walk with two crutches.
When she was barely fifteen years old, Genoveva Torres was already a serious and responsible woman. Outside of her home and the care of her brother José, nothing counted for her.
In 1885, the fragile health of Genoveva Torres again gave her a very bad move. Her body was covered with sores and he could not make the slightest movement.
Once again she had to stay in bed. Her brother José got married and the sister-in-law did not have adequate treatment with Genoveva. In due time, a girl was born to her and his wife died a few days later due to childbirth. The girl also died shortly after. Genoveva and José were alone again.
He remarried; And with the experience suffered in the first marriage in relation to the wife with Genoveva, he thought that the best thing for Genoveva was to enter the “House of Mercy”, run by the Carmelites of Charity in the city of Valencia.
In that institution, Genoveva Torres lived for nine years, from the age of 16 to 25, during which she was able to regain her health, enjoy the affection of the nuns, and complete her little culture until then.
Genoveva Torres’ admission to religion
Genoveva, advised by Father Carlos Ferrís, a Jesuit priest and later founder of the “Fontilles Leprosarium”, applied to become a religious in the Congregation of the Carmelites of Vedruna in 1894.
Despite their appreciation for her, the Carmelites considered Genoveva Torres’ incapacity to be an obstacle to being admitted.
Genoveva Torres was 25 years old and never again tried to apply to any other congregation.
Genoveva Torres lived the next 17 years with three friends
When Genoveva Torres left the “Casa de Misericordia”, on July 31, 1895, by personal decision, she was joined by two ladies: Desamparados Ribes and Isabel Fuster. Also with a daughter of this called María Perales Fuster.
The three of them helped each other with sewing work and feeding their spirits with acts of piety, especially with the adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist, the first impulse that the Holy Spirit instilled in Genevieve.
The young Genoveva Torres also sensed a pressing problem that afflicted the elderly women of that time: loneliness.
Elder Genoveva Torres
During those 16 years, the three friends were able to verify the painful, difficult and delicate situation of elderly women who were left homeless and without affection after the death of their husbands, or of their parents in the case of those who were single.
A canon of Valencia, Don José Barbarrós, was also concerned about some ladies and gentlemen who, due to various circumstances, were left alone and abandoned, financially and emotionally.
Genoveva Torres and her two companions thought they would dedicate their lives to the service of these people. They asked the advice of who was the spiritual father of the three: the Jesuit Martín Sánchez.
Their goal was to offer a new home to single women. They would offer them warm welcome, food, care and affection. In return, they should only contribute a small pension according to their possibilities.
But Genoveva did not forget her old desire, so the charism to develop would go hand in hand with the nocturnal adoration of the Eucharist.
Foundation of the “Angelica Society of the Sacred Heart”
In 1911, Genoveva Torres and her two companions, Isabel and Amparo, founded the “Sociedad Angelica del Sagrado Corazón”. Objective: to give meaning to their lives, to stimulate their religious practice and to help lonely women.
On February 2, 1911, they inaugurated the first house in Valencia, with four residents. Genoveva Torres was chosen to be “Director”.
Gradually, voluntary collaborators and young people who felt they had a religious vocation began to arrive. Starting in December 1912, the members of the “Angelic Society of the Sacred Heart” dressed in the characteristic habits of religious.
With the increase in vocations and requests for help, the foundations of houses or residences quickly spread throughout Spain.
In 1915, four years after the foundation, the members decided to consecrate themselves to God in the style of private vows. In previous years and with the advice of their spiritual parents, they had drawn up some “Statutes” that would govern their lives as women who belonged to a religious institute.
The “Angelica Society” between 1925 and 1941
On December 5, 1925, the Decree was promulgated by which the “Angelica Society” became a diocesan religious institute of Zaragoza.
Shortly before Christmas, on December 18, 1925, the Archbishop of Zaragoza received the religious profession of Genoveva Torres and her 18 companions.
Thus began this religious congregation that has been doing so much good ever since. Genoveva Torres was named General Mother of the Angelica Society.
In 1931, mother Genoveva Torres was already 61 years old and was appointed teacher and spiritual guide of the “Angelica Society“, which had already begun to expand throughout Spain.
When the Spanish civil war broke out in 1936, in the House of Valencia they were able to give protection to other people, not only to members of religious congregations, but also to groups of laity, and they could even have the Blessed Sacrament. Everything was a Providence, since they were guarded by the militiamen who had confiscated the House.
However, the Congregation lost several houses throughout the country because of religious persecution that was blind and that attacked nonstop on reasonable grounds.
After 1939, Genoveva Torres turned all her energies into encouraging her nuns and getting the six Houses of the “Angelica Society” back to work.
Despite her limp, Mother Genoveva traveled through the main Spanish cities founding or refounding residences in Zaragoza, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santander and Pamplona.
She encouraged her daughters to love God very much and to achieve the goal that the ladies welcomed by the “Angelica Society” would always feel at home.
Finally, in 1941, the General House and the Novitiate were installed in Zaragoza, in an inn located at the feet of the Virgen del Pilar.
The life of Genoveva Torres from 1950
Despite her advanced age, 80 years old, the activity of Mother Genoveva Torres did not stop. Her attitude of service to others did not age.
She said that if Christ had become a servant of men, she should always have an attitude of service, not only towards women alone, but also towards the Angelic Religious of whom she was the Mother General.
From 1950, Genoveva Torres began to lose physical faculties and a loss of strength was perceived in her activity.
On March 25, 1953, the religious of the Angelica Society had the immense joy of receiving from Rome a decree of the Holy Father, which recognized them as “a work of a universal pontifical character.”
From that day on, the society was renamed “Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels“, as the official name, although they are better known as Angelic Religious.
In the fourth General Chapter of 1954, God took from her hands what she had once entrusted to her. Just as she knew how to expend her energy to start up and expand the Religious Institute, now she knew how to become a religious who was respectful and obedient to the Mother General.
Death of Genoveva Torres in Zaragoza
During the year 1955, Genoveva Torres had been notably weakened. At the beginning of December 1955, her state of health worsened and on December 30 she suffered a stroke.
From January 3-4, 1956, when she was 86 years old, her condition worsened. At nine in the morning on January 5, Mother Genoveva Torres fell into a coma.
She died on the afternoon of January 5, 1956, at 6:50 p.m., in the General House of Zaragoza.
Acknowledgments granted to Genoveva Torres
The people of Zaragoza began to invoke her with the title of “Angel of Solitude.”
The news spread through the city and long lines formed before her exposed body to pray and entrust herself to Mother Genevieve. They considered her a true saint.
The mortal remains of Genoveva Torres were deposited in the city’s cemetery, and later in a crypt that was built under the main altar of the General House.
In December 1994, the remains of Mother Genevieve were transferred to the new chapel where they rest under her altar and which can be visited by as many people as they wish.
The authorities of the Catholic Church awarded her the highest recognitions for her life full of love for Christ and her fellow men, after examining and declaring two healings that occurred in Madrid and Zamora respectively as miracles.
She was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) on January 29, 1995.
Pope John Paul II also canonized her on May 4, 2003, in the Plaza de Colón in Madrid.
The institute of religious founded by Saint Genoveva Torres maintains Residences in 11 Spanish cities and in 4 other countries: Italy, Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia.
The objective that encourages the Angelic Sisters of these residences continues to be the same as Genoveva Torres had: “to be consolation in solitude“.
In this Residence, women are welcomed and cared for, physically and spiritually, who, perhaps due to the vicissitudes of life, are plunged into solitude, in order to instill in their lives comfort, tenderness and mercy to help them cope joy the last stage of their lives.
Saint Genevieve repeated: “Let us be their Guardian Angels for these ladies” and “With more need, more love.“