Saint Raphaela Mary was not alone on her journey. By her side we will always find her sister, Dolores Porras Ayllón, who in the Congregation was called Pilar. She was 4 years older than her sister, and Raphaela’s childhood and early adolescence was always marked by the needs and strong enterprising temperament of her sister. It was Dolores who ruled the household after the death of their mother, and it was she who organized their departure when the two sisters decided to dedicate themselves to God in the religious life. Those who knew her well used to describe her as “a soul on fire, a will of iron, a heart of gold – a true character.”


When the Institute of the Handmaids was founded in 1877, after the formal recognition by the Cardinal of Toledo, which Mother Pilar herself obtained, all her material and spiritual efforts were for her dear “family,” the Handmaids; her dedication was limitless. Several of the 4,975 letters that have been preserved end with the words: “today I can’t do any more.” With her continuous journeys in third-class trains, she sought economic sustenance for the Institute and its expansion to other cities.


Between the two sisters there was always a strong affection, enduring in spite of the natural friction caused by their differences in temperament and the complications of the founding years. When Mother  Pilar found herself, like her sister, retired from all her offices, their mutual affection and their love for the Institute blossomed with even greater intensity and depth. Both were set aside in order to become the hidden foundations of the building that was the Congregation of the Handmaids. They lived their final years in surrender to the Will of God, dedicating themselves to prayer and to simple household tasks. Mother Pilar died in 1916.


"In spite of my faults, I want only the will of God"