In her final years, Rafaela spent many hours sitting in a hammock, her movement limited by a bad knee. Surely many images passed through her mind while she was sitting there- the movie of her entire life, full of names, faces, encounters, desires ... 

Undoubtedly there were also long and deep stretches of conversation with her God. Countless hours of prayer, of intimate union with her Jesus. We recall the episode when her nurse finds her walking with difficulty and asks her why she doesn’t stay in the sitting room that is closest to her bedroom… She responds “because I want to be closer to Jesus.” The same nurse asks her, at the end of her life, what she says to the Lord in so many hours before Him in adoration... and Rafaela answers: "nothing, I look at Him and He looks at me."

Her consecrated life was a life of total dedication, of fidelity; a life entirely spent for the Kingdom. It was a life well lived- lived in daily pursuit of the Magis and of God’s glory.  "...To serve so great a Lord" was her joy and her life speaks eloquently of generosity, gratuitousness, deep freedom, meaning, lucidity and exemplary strength.

We take a moment to recount her death:

“On January 6, 1925, Maria del Sagrado Corazón woke up much worse than usual. "What is it, Mother?" The nurse spoke to her with affection. “Is it that you want to go away with the Child forever?” 

"I think so," the sick woman answered very calmly. “Please, Sister, when it seems that I have already died, keep saying the name of Jesus in my ear. I won't be able to say it anymore, but I'd like to hear it to the end.”

She said little more after that. She was setting her sights definitively on the other shore, where words are less important. When Father Marchetti, the Jesuit who had been her confessor for so many years, arrived, she could no longer say anything to him. She seemed to be in a deep slumber, but she opened her eyes, still clear, and looked at the priest as if bidding him farewell. Around six o'clock in the afternoon she slipped away very gently.  At the same moment, in the church of Via Piave, her church, the benediction with the Blessed Sacrament was given.

Poor in spirit, but free to the end, and even more so now, at the gates of eternity, Maria of the Sacred Heart fixed her lucid gaze on Maria Purísima and made a supreme recommendation: “Let us be humble, humble, humble, because only in this way will we attract the blessings of God .”

In the last letter we have published from her, dated December 3, 1924, she wrote to Don Antonio Pérez Vacas, a long time priest friend, to offer her condolences for the sudden death of his brother. In the letter she writes, "We must always and in everything abide by the most holy will of the Lord, who at all times knows better than we do what is convenient for each one."

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. 

After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (Jn 19, 26-30)

Reflecting upon my experience of life up to this point, I ask myself: what would be "my epitaph of life"?

Prayer to Saint Raphaela Mary

Together with Rafaela, we pray her “OFFERING AS A VICTIM OF LOVE”:

“My God and Lord, I am afraid to surrender myself to your divine will as if you were a rigorous judge and not a loving father, and in this I offend your infinite mercy, of which I have received so many proofs throughout my life. 

This has come to an end, and at this moment I irrevocably surrender myself to your divine designs, be they sweet or bitter, so that You may use me according to what You, my Jesus, desire, since, as I am yours by so many counts, You have a full right.

I hope, with your grace, to kill my desires at once, to be content with everything and to say yes to everything, and constantly nurture such great trust in You, that every event, even the most humiliating and painful, I receive as a most precious gift of the love with which your Divine Heart burns for me.”

Your words are hard and mysterious, but we know that they are filled with love and with the conviction that comes from knowing yourself to be fully known and utterly loved and sustained by God. The Lord gave you the grace of deep interior freedom, which allowed you to make of your life, the solid foundation of the Institute which you loved into