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September 26, 2018
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First Romani woman and second Romani person in history will be beatified this Saturday: Emilia Fernández Rodríguez

28.3.2017 17:06
Emilia Fernández Rodríguez. (SOURCE:  The Diocese of Almeria,
Emilia Fernández Rodríguez. (SOURCE: The Diocese of Almeria,

News server Vatican Insider reports that Cardinal Angelo Amato from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will declare the Romani woman Emilia Fernández Rodríguez beatified during Saturday's religious service in the Spanish town of Aguadulce. She will be the first Romani woman ever to be given that designation.

The first Romani man ever declared as beatified was Ceferino Gimenéz Malla. Last weekend a total of 115 martyrs who experienced the Spanish Civil War were beatified.

The Spanish Civil War(July 1936 – April 1939) is one of the bloodiest and most confusing conflicts of the 20th century, a war that divided Spanish society - and that of the world - for a very long time. It began when the Spanish Army, led by General Francisco Franco, intervened militarily against the democratically-elected Government of the Republic of Spain.

Emília Fernández Rodríguez was born in the south of Spain on 13 April 1914 and believed in God her entire life. She made a living producing baskets and at the age of 24 married Juan Cortés.

Her husband was called upon to serve during the Civil War. She wanted to save him from the war, so she put a decoction on his eyes that temporarily blinded him.

In the beginning her husband did not have to enlist in the revolutionary units. After some time, however, the soldiers discovered that he could see.

Cortés was imprisoned as punishment. Rodríguez was also sentenced to six years in prison even though she was pregnant.

Her faith never left her, even during her imprisonment. She met with a group of her fellow prisoners who were Christian.

She prayed the rosary with them, for which she was harshly interrogated and persecuted. Her jailers promised her that if she would reveal the names of the other Christians, she would be released.

Despite the fact that she was in an advanced stage of her pregnancy, she kept quiet and did not betray them. On 13 January 1939 her daughter was born in the prison and was secretly baptized with the name Ángeles.

The prison did not provide quality medical care and the mother died on 25 January 1939, in prison, as a consequence of blood loss. Ángeles was not delivered to her own relatives, but was placed into a childcare institution and then put up for adoption by the revolutionary Government.

Vatican Insider reports that it is entirely possible that Ángeles is still alive and knows nothing of her mother's fate. Emilia Fernández Rodríguez is the second person of Romani nationality ever to be beatified.

The first such person was Ceferino Gimenéz Malla, who was beatified on 4 May 1997 by Pope John Paul II. Just like Emilia, he too was a martyr during the Spanish Civil War and is considered the patron saint of Roma.

dm, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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