Venerable Maria del Carmen González-Valerio
Born March 14 1930, Madrid, Spain
Died July 17 1939, Spain
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast July 17

Venerable Maria del Carmen González-Valerio y Sáenz de Heredia (March 14, 1930 - July 17, 1939) was a Spanish girl who is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church and is being considered for sainthood. She was declared a venerable by Pope John Paul II on January 16, 1996.

She was born into a noble, militantly Catholic and Spanish Nationalist family and lived during the turbulent Spanish Civil War. She was a cousin by marriage of politician José Antonio Primo de Rivera. As a child she was known for her deep piety. Her father, Julio González-Valerio, the second son of the Marqués de Casa Ferrandel, was taken away in 1936 by a group of militia men to be executed. He told his wife, Carmen, to tell their children that: "Our children are too young, they don’t understand. Tell them later that their father gave up his life for God and for Spain, so that our children may be raised in a Catholic Spain, where the crucifix reigns over in schools." Their mother sought refuge at the Belgian Embassy in 1937, while Mari Carmen and her siblings were cared for by aunts. The children were also granted asylum when the ambassador learned that the Communists planned to abduct the González-Valerio children and send them to Russia to be raised as Marxists.

The family later sought safety in San Sebastian and Mari Carmen was sent to a boarding school, School of the Reverend Irish Mothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Zalla. She prayed for the conversion of the men who had killed her father. She offered up her own suffering and death for the conversion of politician Manuel Azaña. Supporters for her canonization say that Azaña was converted on his deathbed in 1940. After weeks of illness, Maria del Carmen died of scarlet fever at the age of nine years, four months. She had initially predicted she would die on July 16, the feast day of her patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but when she learned her aunt would be married on that day, she said she would die on July 17, the following day. Her last words were reportedly "I die as a martyr. Please, doctor, let me go now. Don’t you see that the Blessed Virgin has come with the angels to get me?" and "Jesus, Mary, Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul with you." Witnesses at her death bed said her body emitted a sweet perfume and she did not look dead.

Canonization efforts

Her prominent family made a case for her canonization following her death, presenting the witnesses who had witnessed her death and heard her dying words and producing a diary Mari Carmen had kept. She had written "Long Live Spain! Long Live Christ the King" which was a battle cry given by those killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War. She told a nurse in the hospital: "My father died as a martyr. Poor mommy! And I am dying as a victim." For the child, Azaña was an representation of the government who had killed her father. She told an aunt that she wanted to make sacrifices and pray for the men who had killed her father. Her death represented Catholic teachings of self-sacrifice and martyrdom to save others from their sins.


Critics note that Mari Carmen's life story also presents her and, by extension her father, as a martyr of the Spanish Civil War. Her hagiographies includes condemnations of Communists, Jews, and Masons. Her maternal grandmother, Carmen de Manzanos y Matheu, Marquesa de Almaguer, had close ties to the Church hierarchy thanks to her title and her work to promote the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus was promoted largely by ultra-traditionalists who protested against liberal government policies. The rest of her family also held close ties to the winning side in the Spanish Civil War. Efforts to canonize Mari Carmen's father failed early, but the child proved a more promising candidate for canonization. Hagiographies of Mari Carmen also present her as an ideal role model for other Catholic children in her practice of her charity, her obedience to her parents, her self-discipline and self-sacrifice, and her extreme modesty.


Labanyi, Jo (2002). Constructing identity in contemporary Spain: theoretical debates and cultural practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 113–127. ISBN 0198159935. Retrieved 2009-03-25.