St. Angela of the Cross Guerrero
One of fourteen children born to a poor but pious family; only five of her siblings survived to adulthood. Her father worked as a cook and her mother a laundress in a Trinitarian Fathers convent, and Angela had to quit school at age twelve to work in a shoe factory to help support her family. She made her First Communion at age eight, Confirmation at nine; she prayed the rosary daily, and had a great devotion as a youth to Christ Crucified. Her piety was so obvious that her employer, Antonia Maldonado, brought her to the attention of Father José Torres Padilla. He became her spiritual director when she was 16, and helped discern if Angela had a call to religious life.
She first tried to join the Carmelites, was refused, and when she was finally accepted at age 19, became so sick that she was forced to return to her family. When she recovered, she began caring for cholera victims, and those even poorer than herself. In 1868 she entered the convent of the Daughters of Charity of Seville, Spain, but again her health failed, and she was forced to return to her parents and the shoeshop. In 1871, with Father Padilla’s blessing, she started a plan whereby she lived at home under a particular Rule, yearly renewing her vows.
While in prayer in 1873 Angela received a vision that she understood was calling her to a mission to the poor, and she began keeping a spiritual diary to record what she understood of the life to which God was calling her. Others were attracted to her life, and on 2 August 1875 the Congregation of the Cross was born. The Congregation works with the sick, the poor, orphans, the homeless, finding them food, medicine, housing, and other needs, living solely on alms, and keeping only enough for themselves to continue their work. Though they started with only Mother Angela and three sisters, they had grown to 23 convents during her life, and continue their good works today.