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Catholic Heros: Mirabel Sisters

alec vanderboom

I've become griped by the story of the Mirabel Sisters. Four close, Catholic sisters grew up under a brutal dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Three of the sisters and their husband's become active in a secrete resistance movement. All six and the sister's parents are repeatedly jailed and tortured. After intervention by the Catholic Church, the sisters are released. Two of the sister's husbands are transfered to a remote jail. Their wives undertake the dangerous journey to visit their spouses in prison. Their oldest sister elects to travel with them. On November 25, 1960, the three sisters are murdered on the way home on the orders of the dictator. (A fourth sister is unharmed and becomes the adopted mother of six of her nieces and nephews.) The fact that defenseless women are murdered on their way home from visiting their imprisioned husband's outrages a nation, and the dictator is finally assistnated six months later.

There's a facinating interview with the surviving Mirabel sister. She struggled to raise the children of her murdered sisters "without hatred in their hearts." To qualify as an "official" Catholic martyr, I think you need to die for one of the truths of the faith. Still, I'm facinated by how the bonds of family and Catholic faith nourished their heroic actions. Minerva, who was the ring leader, is also a modern day symbol of chastity. Her refusal to submit to the romantic advances of the married dictator, were unprecidented and resulted in her family coming under intense scrutiny by the secrete police.

If you are interested in learning more, there is a fictional account of the sisters called "In the Time of Butterflies" by Julia Alvarez. It's also been made into a TV movie, with the same title, staring Salma Hayek.