Four Women Martyrs

Of El Salvador

slain-catholic-missionariesThey are sometimes called “The Four Roses of December”.  On December 2, 1980, Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Maryknoll Lay Missioner Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel were brutally raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave on the side of the road outside the airport in San Salvador. This took place during the U.S. backed civil war in El Salvador, which lasted 12 years and ended over 75,000 lives, while displacing countless others.  Earlier that same year, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated for standing up for the poor and voiceless during that same conflict.  These 4 women stood on the same side, the side of the poor and the side of God, as did Romero, and like him, they suffered a martyrs death.  Though they are richly deserving of the recognition of their sainthood, the Church continues to be unable or unwilling to recognize their sacrifice in the name of the Gospel.

From the Maryknoll sisters:

While traveling the country with the Maryknoll Sisters World Awareness Team, Maura Clarke had once said, “I see in this work a channel for awakening real concern for the victims of injustice in today’s world, a means to work for change, and to share deep concern for the sufferings of the poor and marginated, the non-persons of our human family.”
The day before her death, Ita Ford quoted the country’s spiritual leader Archbishop Oscar Romero at a ceremony in Nicaragua, saying: “Christ invites us not to fear persecution because, believe me, brothers and sisters, the one who is committed to the poor must run the same fate as the poor, and in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, be tortured, to be held captive — and to be found dead.”
More here, as well as a brief video.

John Dear, S.J. writes about his recollections of Ita, Maura, Dorothy & Jean.

Brief articles on each of the “Four Roses”:

Jean Donovan

Sr. Maura Clarke, M.M.

Sr. Ita Ford, M.M.

Sr. Dorothy Kazel, O.S.U.