To the Sisters of Lérida and Aytona

 Barcelona, Vigil of all Saints

October 31, 1851


My dear sisters and daughters in Jesus Christ: After recommending you to God and to all the saints, I took the pen in order to engage myself for a while with you.

I wish that all of you will be one heart animated by one and the same spirit[1]. Every day I offer all of you to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and present you on the altar of sacrifice as only one heart. If all of you constitute one heart, if that heart is animated, vivified, guided and led by the Spirit of God, with what abundance God will shower his graces upon you! To this end you have to practice (I see with satisfaction that you are already doing) these virtues:

1st Blind obedience, be humble, submissive, ready, joyful, simple, without reasoning, without forming one’s opinion, without contradicting the sisters who directs. Obey them as you obey God, because they represent God[2].

2nd Love among yourselves. Make yourselves servants, inferiors and servants of one another; assume the vilest and the most laborious chores; strive for what is hard and painful; consider it a blessing to be the broom and the trash, rubbish of the house, and not only of the house, but of the whole world[3].

3rd Poverty. Compete with one another who could be the poorest; glory to be despised; thirst to be poor, if you wish to be rich; thirst for voluntary poverty, strip yourselves of your own affections; thirst to be poor in dressing, poor but decent, clean and modest; thirst to be frugal, but careful and fair; poor in resting; poor in whatever you have; poor inside and outside the house; be cautious if any unmortified person complains of poverty for that would be an ominous sign. If you are poor, you will mortify yourselves and do penance; if you do not desire anything, you will have everything; if you strip everything, you will be graced and beautified by God; thirst to be poor in soul and body; strip yourselves of your opinion and will. If nobody has anything, you will always be united and at peace with Jesus Christ.

4th For those in authority: love, solicitude, interest, prudence and discretion. Be all to all: “to the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak. I have made myself all things to all men . . .”[4], take care of each sister as yourself; put yourself in the lowest place; consider yourself to be the maid of all, the broom of the house, the poorest, and the inferior of all; fidelity, strictness with precision in following the rules[5] and practices; [to have an unassuming and condescending attitude with the faults of others due to weakness and distraction] austere and strict against the faults of malice and perversity.

Observing these virtues, you will live in peace and will build a house where God dwells and takes delight. God is the prince of peace and dwells only in hearts united by love. Being united, go together, captivated by the chains of God’s love. Go by the same way. A five-year child could lead you; it is to say, Jesus Christ will be your guide.

Being well disposed and captivated by these virtues, God will send his angel ahead of you[6] and this, with its interior light, will direct and guide the one who governs you, bear the sister appointed to preside over you, and without either you or her noticing it, it will inspire her of all that she has to instruct you. The good angel will come to meet me and between the two of us we will prescribe and arrange all that you have to do. In my opinion with the good angel and the sister who will preside over you will be understanding with me and you with her. Thus, all of us will proceed guided by God according to the course he has disposed in his providence.

I direct and guide Sr. Juana for you. I write to her for you, to inspire and suggest to her what she must do and what to instruct you, and not only for herself. This is the demand of the order established by God in the governance of the Church. Be eager then to be precise, faithful, constant and strong in the practice of all the virtues that will form you a choir of angels on earth. Each one of you has your own wretchedness and peculiarities, your struggles and temptations, your afflictions and sorrows, your cross. Let each one carry her own cross. If it is too heavy, if it overwhelms you, I will always give you a hand; when you are in need, I will help you all the time particularly in an extraordinary case.

Commend me to God. I have now an undertaking which I do not wish to end in disappointment nor have a bad outcome[7]. Commend me very much to God so that he will be glorified in the work that I do. God will listen to you. You can always count on the care, solicitude and love of a father who desires you to be perfect.



[1] Acts 2, 44-46; 4,32.

[2] Lk 10,16.

[3] 1 Cor 4,13.

[4] 1 Cor 2,22.

[5] He had sent them in July, cf. Letter 6, footnote nr.5.

[6] Tb 5,22; Ps 91,12.

[7] He refers to the School of Virtues started in November of this year.


Father Palau is back in Barcelona, preparing for the opening of the School of Virtues, the ambitious program of catechesis for adults, that for four consecutive years will gather thousands in the temple of Saint Agustin in Barcelona. But before proceeding with this new adventure of his life, he desires to write to the sisters in Aitona. From the letter we can sense that there were some tensions among them. The truth is that at that time, with Juana Gratias as superior of this group, things weren’t going well. Juana was a foreigner, of character quite reserved, inclined more towards contemplative and monastic life. It was difficult to make it work, while she was accompanying other members of this family, young and energetic, involved actively in social and pastoral work in Aitona (let us remember that the Sisters of the Cross, like they were being called, were working with girls in danger of prostitution). There were differences among them, and there had to be conflicts. Father Palau feels his responsibility to help sisters in facing this situation.


Palau reminds sisters the evangelical basis of their staying together: to be one heart animated by only one spirit. To live in community (or family, or any group of people) is a kind of vocation in itself. And it has its conditions and its price. Among them: obedience, mutual love and poverty. All of them has one purpose: to make us forget about ourselves and be for others. To set apart one’s own pride and personal interest, and humbly fulfil the commandment of love of God and neighbor, especially this neighbor near to us (members of our own families and communities). This is the way to construct an ambience of peace where God will dwell and where everyone will progress becoming what God has planned for us to become.


To live with others is not easy. All of us we have our peculiarities, weaknesses, limitations, desires, manners, ways to do things etc. During time of quarantine we were forced to stay closed with a small group of persons. And for many, this only added some more stress to this already stressful situation. It may happen to us that we slowly forget how it is to build community together. If I have my work outside, if I have any kind of position or responsibility there, I can get used to having things done my way. I can use it as source of my happiness and self-worth. But suddenly, I am back to be only another one among equals. I cannot nourish myself anymore based on my position or achievements. How to make things work? Our modern societies and companies are built more on competition than collaboration. We are being praised by our personal achievements more than by team work or group effort. We grow in pride more than in humility. But things don’t work well this way, do they? Make it a post-COVID challenge: to try to build things together collaborating and not competing, so that there will be progress for all, not only for few.