Genoveva Torres Morales was born on 3 January 1870 in Almenara, Castille, Spain. She was the youngest of six children but by the age of eight, both her parents and four of her siblings had died.
Genoveva was left to to care for their home and her very demanding and taciturn brother, José. Having been deprived of affection and companionship so young, Genoveva became accustomed to solitude. By the age of 10, she had developed a special interest in reading spiritual books and came to understand that true happiness is doing God’s will. This became her rule of life.
At the age of 13, Genoveva’s left leg had to be amputated at home, in order to stop a gangrene that was spreading there. Throughout her life her leg continued to cause her pain and sickness, and she had to use crutches.
From 1885 to 1894 she lived at the Mercy Home run by the Carmelites of Charity. In the nine years she lived with the sisters and with other children, the young Genoveva deepened her life of piety and perfected her sewing skills. It was also in these years that a diocesan priest guided the “beginnings” of her spiritual life. Reflecting on this period at the Mercy Home, she later would write: “I loved freedom of heart very much, and worked and am working to achieve it fully…. It does the soul so much good that every effort is nothing compared with this free condition of the heart”.
Genoveva wanted to join the Carmelites of Charity, but she was not accepted due to her physical condition. She longed to be consecrated to God and, being of a decided and resolute nature, in 1894 Genoveva left the Carmelites of Charity’s home and went to live briefly with two women who supported themselves by their own work. Together they “shared” the solitude and poverty.
In 1911, Canon Barbarrós suggested that Genoveva begin a new religious community, pointing out that there were many poor women who could not afford to live on their own and thus suffered much hardship. For years, Genoveva had thought of starting a religious congregation that would be solely concerned with meeting the needs of such women, since she knew of no one engaged in this work.
The first community was established in Valencia. Shortly thereafter, other women arrived, wanting to share the same apostolic and spiritual life. It was not long before more communities were established in other parts of Spain, despite many problems and obstacles.The Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels received Pontifical approval in 1953.
Mother Genoveva died on 5 January 1956. She is remembered for her kindness and openness to all, and for her good sense of humour – even joking about her physical ailments.
On this day lift before God:
- All who find themselves in caring roles as children.
- All who spend a great deal of time alone or with no-one to talk to.
- All who are told that they cannot do something because of their physicality and yet go on to achieve their goal anyway.
- All who fill our lives with kindness and good humour.