The lives of Sr. Carmen Moreno and Sr. Amparo Carbonell were very simple, but marked by generosity and readiness to answer the call of God each day.Carmen belonged to a wealthy family; Amparo’s instead was poor. The former was born in Villamartin (Cadice) in 1885, the latter in Alboraya (Valenza) in 1893. Carmen met the Salesian Sisters in Seville, where she stayed in the College for a while after her father’s death. Amparo met them in her native city of Valenza, where she had probably gone into service.One of her sisters strongly opposed her vocation, something that later she deeply regretted.
Carmen’s life revolved around teaching, directing works and community animation. Her most intense years were spent in Valverde del Camino, where she lived with another saint, Sr. Eusebia Palomino, the community cook who united great simplicity, a loveable originality and quite extraordinary gifts.In 1936 Sr. Amparo and Sr. Carmen found themselves in the same community. Amparo was still ‘Jack of all trades’, while Carmen was vicar.The house of St. Dorothy in Barcelona had been planned and opened by Don Bosco with the financial and spiritual help of Mrs. Dorotea da Chopitea, a very wealthy lady who lived her everyday life in Cartusian poverty and Gospel fidelity and fully shared his spirituality.
In July 1936, they learned that the house was in danger. The seventy or so Sisters, twelve novices and the ten girls, who were still in the College, dispersed as quickly as possible. Some of the religious, who could not go to their families or safe houses of friends, found refuge at Villa Jarth, which belonged to a German, Protestant lady who was very friendly with the Sisters.It was July 19th. The following day they left Barcelona aboard two Italian ships, which, in spite of difficulties and anxiety, made room for several Sisters. Sr. Carmen and Sr. Amparo wanted to stay. A Sister had just been operated for cancer. They would leave together later.
On the night of September 1, violent steps were heard on the cobblestones. Sr. Carmen, Sr. Amparo and Sr. Carmen Xammar, who had just come out of hospital, were arrested.At dawn on September 6, the executioners opened the door of their cell and brought the victims to the city’s hippodrome, which was near the sea. A firing squad shot the two Sisters and left their bodies lying on the ground. In the afternoon there was a final macabre rite. The bodies were taken to the university hospital for a medical examination.Their executioners felt the need for an appearance of legality; they wanted a diagnosis on their documents, together with photographs.
We do not know where the bodies of Sr. Carmen and Sr. Amparo ended up. We do know, however, that their fame as martyrs began to spread immediately and stood the test of time, until, at last, their cause of Beatification was introduced.