Pope praises heroic example of Blessed Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos
By Vatican News
Isabel Cristina Mrad was only twenty years old when she was killed for "defending her dignity as a woman" and the "value of chastity," Pope Francis said in remembering her in his greetings after leading the Angelus.
Beatification in Brazil
On Saturday morning, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis beatified the young Brazilian virgin and martyr from the State of Minas Gerais. In October 2020, Pope Francis had recognised her martyrdom but the pandemic delayed her beatification. The celebration finally took place in Barbacena, located in the Archdiocese of Mariana, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy.
A life of study and prayer
Born into a family of modest economic means, Isabel attended her parish church from an early age. She was part of the Youth Group of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, where a spiritual director shared with her the spirituality of the Cursilhos de Cristanidade and the Vincentians. She also frequently attended the Visitation Monastery, practised family prayer, went to regular confession, and participated in campaigns organised by the Vincentians.
She hoped to become a paediatrician, and after attending a specialized course she obtained her Professional Qualification Diploma on 8 December 1980. When she moved to Juiz de Fora (Brazil) to begin her medical studies, she went to live with her brother in a house purchased by the family. On the evening of 1 September 1982, her brother returned home to find her murdered with signs on her body of attempted sexual violence. She was 20 years old.
After the criminal trial began, Maurílio Almeida Oliveira was found guilty of the murder. According to the investigation, he went to Isabel's house and attempted to rape her. According to the autopsy, she resisted this aggression, keeping her virginity intact. The defendant was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Maurílio Almeida Oliveira always denied being the perpetrator of the murder. After several years in prison, he escaped from jail and remained a fugitive. Some relatives claim he is now deceased.
The body dies, not the soul
Regarding the martyrdom, the process for beatification and canonisation established that the attack was not a sudden crime of passion, but a planned murder having to do with the victim's faith. The young woman's witness that led to martyrdom became known immediately. In his homily, Cardinal Damasceno Assis recalled Jesus' words in Matthew's Gospel (10:28), when He says: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." And he recalled that, as Tertullian said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians. The Cardinal also appealed for an end to all violence against women in the world.
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