Mother Felix had a privileged intelligence, but above all, a great heart.
Those who knew her tell us of her deep love of God, which she transmitted in her love for each person she knew. All of them have beautiful memories: “She loved me in a special way.”
Here you can see some stories of her life, which are able to give us a glimpse of her human and spiritual profile.
One thing that I loved was seeing her deep love and gratitude to the Eucharist. Having a Tabernacle at home was for her the greatest joy and consolation. One day, in her office, she told me, amused: “There is a word that young people use now and that “I like a lot”: “gozada” (in Spanish slang, it means joy)… Yes, it’s a joy”. Whenever she passed by the door of the chapel, she greeted the Lord. And I remember that, when I accompanied her in the elevator, she made me stop on the ground floor to look at the Tabernacle for a few seconds through the glass door, even though it was closed. Truly, as our Constitutions say, the Eucharist was “the center of her life and her love”.
M. Cristina Parejo, CS
I have had the privilege of guiding Mother Felix spiritually in her mature years. I was always under the impression of finding myself before a person of a superior category, an extraordinary woman in her mind, in the greatness of her heart, in her vision of things, in her elevation of spirit, in her love for Jesus Christ and St. Ignatius, in her unlimited dedication, in her fidelity to a charisma that brought with it many puzzles and problems, but to which she remained faithful throughout her entire life, through many sufferings and also many joys granted by the Lord.
Being an exceptional woman, above all her human qualities I keep in my memory the image of a person surrendered to God: of a woman of God. Her simplicity of spirit, her kindness and her intimacy with the Lord were remarkable, which made her often burst into tears that slid down her face when she spoke of the love of God. The love of God was her favorite subject; to the love and glory of God she gave herself since her youth with all of her soul.
P. Luis M.ª Mendizábal Ostolaza, SJ
When I went to look for her to go to Mass, she had her apron on, when she realized that, she looked at me and started to take it off while saying: “I take it off because He is my God, but I could leave it on because He is my Father.”
M. Isabel Moreno de Barreda, CS
I remember that, not long after I entered the Company, I asked the Mother if one did not get tired of the routine, of always doing the same things, since I saw that there were some Religious who did the same work for many years. I was impressed with her response: “Blessed is the routine that makes us find novelty in Christ!”
M. Pilar Lorente, CS
One the day of Pentecost, when I was the sacristan, we asked the Superior what tablecloth we should use in Mass. She was inclined not to use the best one we had. Mother Felix, who was next to her, about to go up on the elevator, told her softly that we should use the best one. The Superior doubted and Mother Felix began to cry saying “Mother, Our Lord is coming and we will not receive Him with what we have best!” Obviously, we used the best tablecloth and we almost started crying when we saw her expression.
During the time I was the sacristan, I must admit that I was afraid of Mother Felix. Sometimes I would get the chapel ready for a celebration, and when she came in it was highly probable that she would want to change things around in order for everything to be more worthy and to better honor the Lord. Of course, when she gave me these arguments, I had to change everything!
M. Ana de Aizpúrua, CS
A feature of Mother Felix that caught my attention was the fact that she always encouraged others. I believe that is truly the look of mercy: when you never feel judged or corrected, you never feel unpleasantness from the other … Well that’s how Mother Felix was. Particularly with the girls, with the young women: she always spoke with encouragement, which is characteristic of the Holy Spirit. There was never anything that demonstrated the intent to correct, a dislike or inner judgment. What she did was to highlighting the virtue contrary to the defect she wanted to correct; she educated by encouraging, and she corrected by encouraging, and she taught by encouraging. I always thought, when this happened that the Holy Spirit is Comforting, and it helped me a great deal to understand the Holy Spirit as an Encourager, a Comforter.
D. Antonio Cano de Santayana Ortega, presbyter
I remember that many times, when we went to the Rosalar, Mother María Félix would come out to greet us and spend some time talking to us. From all of these times, I have keep in my memory several things:
D. Fernando Vez Sixte, father of a religious
Sometimes the things related to the services and the suppliers in general, did not happen with the haste and in the way that we all wanted. Mother Felix, who was always aware of what was going on, during the 11 years I knew her, was never disappointed by anything. She downplayed everything, according to her none of that was significant, all of that had a solution, on the following day or the next everything would be resolved, and she always, always, always … repeated the same phrase to me, possibly the phrase that I heard her say the most: “do not suffer”.
Mr. Pedro Mesa, Industrial Technical Engineer, responsible for the maintenance of the Rosalar facilities.
I carry it in my breviary. It is a photograph of the image of the Heart of Jesus in mosaic that decorates the entrance of the main house of the Religious of the Company of the Savior at El Rosalar (Madrid). It was September 9, 1989, only two months after my ordination and Mother Felix gave me this simple gift. I, imagining what it would mean in the future to have something “personal” that belonged to this holy woman, I asked for her to sign it for me. She did not sign her name, instead she wrote what I suspect was the motto she followed her entire life: “Be holy.” That was her signature. I keep this as a true relic. Her message is not just the spiritual advice from someone who knows you, loves you, and wants the best for you, it is the spiritual testament Mother Felix left to so many people. When I received the news of her passing, I opened my breviary and there she was. “Be holy,” I read again, and the sadness of the news became a source of inner joy when I remembered the life of this humble Religious … a constant invitation to holiness. And I started to pray … Curiously, and I say curiously because I myself was surprised, I instinctively started praying to her. Since then, I have asked God the Father for many things through her intercession and I continue to do so amid the daily chores of my priestly life. And I feel that her intercession is powerful and effective … but also discreet, non-intrusive, subtle… the same way her life on earth was.
D. José Miguel González Martín, pbro.
I met Mother Felix in 1949 when, at the age of 10, I entered the recently inaugurated Mater Salvatoris School in Lleida. My relationship with her, although discontinuous, lasted until her death. I remember her as a very intelligent, serene and balanced person, as well as intensely kind. My contact with her helped me in my personal life; simply visiting her filled me with happiness and hope. She always showed sympathy towards secular life alluding to the merit in moving forward, maintaining a family and being honest. I was always struck by her serenity and joy in life. When I asked her how she could be so optimistic, she replied that the life of a Religious was very simple, simpler that secular life, that prayer comforted her and that she left matters in God’s hands that were later resolved. She gave vital importance to prayer.
Mrs. Beatriz Camino Germá, former student of the School in Lleida
She constantly transmitted to us her eagerness for spiritual apostolate and always made the most of the present moment in order to do good. In Cirajas (Valladolid) there was a small colony of workers who were in charge of the lands of the Jesuits. She sent us there, two Novices, to give Catechism and to teach women some sewing and childcare. The important thing was to help them and attend them in case they needed something, and above all to speak to them about God. I think it was during that time that she made us understand how important it those things that are close to us and that our apostolate is where God has placed us, doing whatever it takes.
M. Concepción Sagüillo,CS
She was very happy to know the fruit of the work of the Company. Many times her eyes filled with tears: “we, the old, only have our hearts left …” The unspeakable the offenses suffered by God our Lord made her suffer tremendously. I believe that one of her greatest sufferings in the last years was to see how young people moved away from God in order to throw themselves unconsciously into a life of sin. Many times, I talked to her about this, and she told me that the daughters of the Company should always be concerned about what the Heart of the Savior went through: redeeming anxieties … She transmitted this even while joking.
It is well known that once, when she became aware that many girls in our school began to lose themselves to a life of impurity because of the nightlife in bad environments, she hinted, with a bit of joke but also some truth that we should open a club so that young people could have healthy fun. “Because young people need to have fun”. When we started laughing and tried to make her see that her idea was a bit bizarre, she suddenly became serious, and with tears in her eyes told us: “What I want is to save them all, and if for that we have to open discotheques, the so be it…”
M. Cristina Parejo, CS
When we went on school retreats with the students, we would always stop by her office to say goodbye and hear her counsels. She asked us how many girls were going, their age, how they were …, and then she told us that she was going to pray that we would be the transparency of God, so that the girls would see Jesus Christ in us and so that we would have a great deal of patience with them, because they are girls! When we came back, she also liked for us to stop by and tell her how it had been and she really enjoyed hearing how the girls had experienced God.
M. Marta Tiagonce, CS
On several occasions, I spoke to her about girls who had shown signs of vocation, or who were already on their way to the vocation of special consecration to the Lord. She never declared a special interest for them to join the Company of the Savior, her main interest was the girls’ own good, to help them to get to know and love Jesus Christ. Therefore, her look was not a look of interest, it was an apostolic look. And with her it was always this way. It is not that I saw her manifest herself like that once or twice; it was her natural way of being, as if it was part of an acquired habit. One could tell that she lived like that spontaneously, without having to force herself. I never noticed anything forced in her; everything was natural, acquired, a whole life that made her the way she was.
D. Antonio Cano de Santayana Ortega, pbro.
I always saw the Mother as a very intelligent person, serene, transparent, talkative, educated, with a spirituality that was very deep, but also very simple. When talking about the Company of the Savior, about its relationships, its projects, its difficulties, etc. she always did it with absolute objectivity, as if it was a work that did not touch her directly. When speaking of her future projects, especially of schools, she manifested absolute confidence that the means –that were not available then – would become available in the right time. She spoke of that without not boasting providentially, but as if, it was the most natural thing in the world. Her way of speaking used to express this idea: If it is the work of God, He will give the means to achieve it.
Card. Urbano Navarrete Cortés, SJ
In 1957 the Mater Salvatoris School of Caracas (Venezuela) was founded, the first institution of the Company of the Savior in American lands. M. Felix, as Superior General, encouraged and accompanied with her presence the first steps of the school.
As soon as the boat arrived, we began to prepare the school year. M. Aige and I were distributing propaganda in the neighborhood. The name of the school was: “Children School Mater Salvatoris”. The first visits began. The Mother, with the sympathy that characterized her, would have a warm conversation with the families until one of them asked about the price. Immediately the Mother would say: “Look, since she is one of our first registrations, the girl will be a guest of honor”. Those of us who heard how she convinced the families to accept the offer, we were surprised. M. Aige with her common sense asked the Mother: “But how are we going to live if the students do not pay?” And Mother Felix would answer like a naughty girl: “You’ll see… many students will come”. And there would be laughter and no strains. M. Aige would give up and trust that Mother Felix was a prophet, and so it was. We finished that first school year with 25 students and we had to find a new and bigger house. We ended up with more than a hundred students and the we kept growing until we moved to the Quinta Gladys, which was the first of the new Quintas: Sacromonte, Lola, Bellita … that around Gladys formed a small colony, with Gladys’ garden in the middle.
M. Concepción Sagüillo, CS
Despite having unquestionable leadership in the Company and knowing that many were willing to present her candidacy at the General Chapter of 1971, where she would most likely win, as the Founder, she did everything she could for them not to present it. After the election and until the year of her death, thirty years later, her obedience and deference to the two Superiors General who succeeded her (one of whom was a former student at the school in Madrid and who met Mother Felix at the age of ten) stood out. She always avoided notoriety, and when she was introduced as the Company’s Founder she used to say: “I’m like the postman who delivers a letter, and how important is the postman?”
M. María Cruz Vaquero, CS
I was always impressed by her humility, which had nothing to do with shyness. For the first time, I had the opportunity to live with a person full of human qualities and who, nevertheless, was very aware of her own misery before God. Many times she told us the anecdote about Beaudenom’s book, A Path of Humility: how her spiritual director recommended it to her, and when she returned it, saying that she liked it very much, that priest told her to read it again, because she had learned nothing: it was not about reading it, it was about living it…
Once I asked Mother Felix if, at ninety-three, she had already learned what humility was. “Just a little bit,” she replied, with a smile. But I keep reading that little book from time to time, to see if I learn a little more… I think that’s why I’ve reached eighty, because it takes me a long time to learn. I, then, laughed: “Mother, but you’re already ninety!” “Really? Can you imagine that, my daughter, I’m clumsier than I thought?”
M. Cristina Parejo, CS
Any “weaknesses”? Her love for the Pope. I remember as if it were yesterday her last visit to Rome on June 2000, and the moment she received the Holy Communion from the Holy Father, immortalized in the photograph that we all know. I am a personal witness to the doubts that invaded her noble spirit in the days before that moment. “I’m not worthy,” she hissed almost obsessively with redness in her eyes and a somewhat displeased face. In the end, the only argument that we could exert to convince her was obedience. I think I remember her saying something like “It’s okay … I’ll go, in obedience to my Superior.” Her fidelity to the will of God was incarnated in her obedience to the hierarchy and the Magisterium of the Church. I also remember being surprised by the speed and depth with which she read each encyclical, exhortation, letter, speech or intervention of the Holy Father.
D. José Miguel González Martín, pbro.
I met Mother Felix, being a seminarian, when I went to a celebration of Mass. I was greeting some of the nuns, when the elevator opened and Mother Felix appeared accompanied by others. They introduced me saying that I was a future priest. As soon as she heard that, she grabbed my hand tightly clapping firmly with her other hand on to mine, while she repeated one word: “Holy, holy, holy, holy!” She said it a few times and ended up kissing my hand. I was so surprised I didn’t know how to react, and she continued to greet other people. That image has remained deeply engraved in my memory. I was so impressed by her poise, her conviction and the firmness of her words. It implied that everything else was superfluous, and that the only important thing in a priest of Jesus Christ was the sanctity of life. Something that she radiated with her presence.
D. Javier Siegrist Ridruejo, pbro.
Oh, how much love Mother Felix had for Saint Ignatius! Many times, while explaining spiritual matters, she mentioned him in order to learn from his teachings, and it was funny how she intoned it: by naming him, out of pure devotion, she put more emphasis on the “Saint” than on the “na” of Ignatius. On the other hand, she did not bear to be reminded of the Saint’s youth, in which he himself confessed he was “a soldier torn and vain”. When a school chaplain reminded her of that jokingly, she threatened him, also jokingly, with her cane since she did not want to hear a word of it. For her, it was above all SAINT Ignatius.
M. Pilar Lorente, CS
Sometimes, while passing in front of the image of Saint Ignatius, she would look at him and cross herself. One day she told me that she asked for his blessing.
M. Paula Martínez, CS
In the month of May 1951, the novitiate moved from Barcelona to Madrid. We made the trip by train with Mother Felix and Aige. We travelled second class, and we occupied a train coach. We were taking some chicks that the Mothers had bought in order to have a small hen house in Madrid. The chicks were in a large cardboard box. Mother Felix wanted to feed them and so she put on an apron and placed the chicks on top of her skirt. While she was doing that there was a knock on the door, the ticket collector entered and the Mother folded the tip of her apron on the chicks, covering them. Were we allowed or not to bring chicks in second? The fact is that the ticket collector looked very surprised at the Mother’s skirt because “she was wriggling”, although the chicks did not make any noise. He did not say anything, but when he left, there was broad laughter, and the first to laugh was Mother Felix.
M. Pilar Basallo, CS
It is true that she was generous to the point of exaggeration. I remember that one of the postal workers that used to come by the house, always asked for “that nice older nun” when he came by, knowing that seeing her meant that he would get an incredible tip. On another occasion, she gave some builders twenty-five thousand pesetas each just to drive a nail into the wall! When Mother Lora tried to hold her back, she said: “Whatever you want, my daughter. But we have never failed to give, and it will be bad for the Company if we seek our own security before the needs of others. We have gone through difficult times and economic hardships, but we have never failed to give…”
After one of her operations, she invited all of the doctors and nurses from the Puerta de Hierro Clinic to come and have a snack at our home in order to thank them for their attention.
M. Cristina Parejo, CS
It was the morning of March 12, 1965: the Mother woke up unable to speak. In the face of our concern, she tried to cheer us up with her smile. She was diagnosed with aphasia and the neurologist said that possibly some brain cells had died. She would have to create a new language center in her brain and that was almost impossible. This discouraged us, but the doctors didn’t know the Mother’s disposition. She was aware of what was going on and tried to communicate with us in any way she could. When we understood her, she celebrated it with joy.
The recovery must have been a true martyrdom for her, but she never let pessimism overcome her. The doctors were surprised by the results and the speech therapist was deeply impressed by the Mother’s personality. He had not had any patient who managed a recovery like that. The most significant aspects of her illness were her tenacity, will, work and acceptance. She accepted her illness with joy and even with a sense of humor. She told us that sometimes God sends us gifts that don’t look or feel like gifts, but that they really are. Those of us, who were lucky enough to be by her side, trying to help her, felt her gratitude, tenderness and affection and her conviction that God was with her.
M. Concepción Sagüillo,CS
I was impressed by how quietly she suffered with the huge lump that grew on her left thigh. The Mother had a big lump of fat on her thigh, which was operated on several times, but which came out each time more bulging. However, she never complained, and it must have hurt her a lot. When you asked her about it, she would touch it and smile.
Myriam Cámara, Architect
Once again, when I asked her about the lipoma and the discomfort that it must cause her, the Mother answered: “Since I’m not much of a penitent, God gave me this, so that I have something to offer Him “.
M. Amelia Lora-Tamayo, Superiora General de la Compañía del Salvador
She urged us to be charitable to one another; she said that we had to be like a “mattress” to face the unpleasant things that others told us. If someone throws a ball on a mattress, it does not bounce, nor does it make any noise, it just falls silently and nothing happens … She also said that we had to be like a three-strand rope, very tightly together, the three-strand rope is very strong, it’s very difficult to break it. Let everyone know, and especially our own, that we have their backs well covered.
M. Pilar Basallo, CS
Many times when she corrected us for small things she asked us for forgiveness, since she was under the impression that she was always upsetting us. She would say something like: “this old lady is already spoiling everything … But what I want is for you to be perfect!”
On one occasion, talking about this, she said that when someone left her office crying, she would stay in the office and cry. Certainly, it must have been very hard for her to correct others, but she did it without hesitation if she saw that it was for the Glory of God.
M. Pilar Lorente, CS