is a daughter of Mexico. She is to be seen vividly in
her Mexican environment, in this land of violence and antithesis, a land of volcanoes but
also the land of Veracruz, the Nation of the True
and of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Throughout her life there will be seen the contrast of a life more and more divine under
the most ordinary appearances. One word was ever on
the lips of those who had known her and whom I questioned during my first sojourn in Mexico:
"simplicity." Conchita has an evangelical
spent her childhood and adolescence in the "haciendas" and on the
"ranches," sailing in a boat along the streams, jumping into the water or pushing
her companions and her father's employees into the water, laughing heartily, mingling with
everyone, passionately fond of music and song, endowed with a fine voice.
Later on, she will compose the first hymns of the Cross, and she herself will sing
them while accompanying them on the piano.
She is young, jolly, fascinating and will have, down through her last years, a
tremendous influence on everyone about her.
tells us in her diary, spontaneously and with incomparable aplomb, about her early years
living with her family.
parents were Octaviano de Cabrera and Clara Arias. Both
were from San Luis Potosí where they were married and where I was born.
My mother was very ill and so could not nurse me. She
made every effort to assure that I would be nursed. One day she almost died.
The doctor, in this emergency, ordered that I sent far from town to a big farm.
There, out of compassion for me, the porter's wife offered to nurse me, entrusting her own
son to a wet-nurse. She saved my life.
Her name was Mauricia. I loved her dearly and,
upon reaching the age of reason, I realized more fully all I owed her.
Later my mother told me that on the way to the farm, she was afraid to uncover my
face, thinking at every moment she had a dead child in her arms (Aut., 1, 6-8).
birthplace was San Luis Potosí where I was born in a house owned by my parents, a house
opposite the Church of St. John of God. There I was
baptized. I have always lived in that house save for
short times when we had to leave while it was being renovated.
I lived there until I got married. There my
son Ignacio was born when, for reasons of health, I was staying there.
It was there that my father, my sister CarIota and my brother Constantino died (Aut.,
parents were excellent Christians. At the haciendas
each day my father presided over the recitation of the rosary in the chapel, with the whole
family, the farm workers and some county folk present.
When he did not do so, because of some urgent task, he had me take his place.
At times he returned before we finished saying
the rosary, and, on the way out he would scold me for lack of devotion.
He said my "Our Fathers" and "Hail Mary's" would go along with me
to Purgatory and that no one there would want them, they were so poorly recited.
father was very charitable to the poor.
Any time he saw someone in need he could not refuse to help them.
He was so jolly and so frank.
I helped him die a good death.
And he himself was so brave.
He himself prepared the altar for the Viaticum, begged pardon of his children for any
bad example and disedification for which he might have been to blame.
When he took us into his arms one after another, kissing each one and gave each one a
piece of advice. In
his will he requested that we bury him without any commemorative plaque, without a
tombstone, not even with a name on the grave but one, a simple cross.
Despite the pain it caused us we carried out his last request, his dying wish (Aut.,
mother was a saint. She was an orphan when she was
only two years old. She suffered much.
She married when she was seventeen. She had
twelve children: eight boys and four girls.
I was the seventh, born between Juan and Primitivo, the Jesuit.
mother passed on to my soul love of the Most Blessed Virgin and of the Eucharist.
She cherished me with all her heart and was quite broken-hearted when I got married.
However, she told me that my husband was an exceptional person and that not everyone was
like him. She had to undergo great suffering.
She passionately loved poverty. She performed
a great number of hidden virtues and her martyrdom was ever unknown to all. She had an
attack and was unconscious for twelve hours. By dint
of prayers, God granted her time to confess.
A second attack resulted in death. I assisted her to die and then laid her in her
coffin (Aut., 366).
only attended three schools: as a tiny child, at the home of some little old servants, named
Santillana; Later, but only for a short time, at Madame Negrete's; finally at a school run
by the Sisters of Charity.
Whey they were expelled, I was still very young, being only eight or nine years old.
My mother did not want to send me anywhere else. Some teachers came to the house to
instruct us and teach us music (Aut., 1, 23).
instruction remained very elementary, not due to any fault on the part of my parents but
because of my stupidity, my laziness and also on account of so many changes and travels at
that period of my studies. Above all I became
addicted to music for playing the piano and singing was my great delight.
I wasted many hours of my life in so doing! May God forgive me!
mother taught us how to run a household: from scrubbing the floor to embroidery.
At the age of twelve I was already put in charge of the expenditures of the house.
At the hacienda – farm – the cows had to be milked, the dough kneaded, and meals
prepared. My mother never let us be idle.
She was very watchful and insistent we keep busy. We
surely did: mending, darning, all kinds of sewing, preparing hors d'oeuvres, sweets and
my mother taught us ever to be humble and not to give way to vanity. Poor momma labored
beyond belief to train us properly, and made every effort possible to teach us not to be
selfish. Quite a
few Sundays, inviting us to take a walk, she brought us to the hospital to see the dead and
the dying. From my
earliest years, as soon as one of our friends fell seriously ill, we had to watch over and
take care of that friend in every possible way.
She also had me attend men, women, children, rich and poor when they were dying and
this taught me not to be afraid, but rather to help them by my prayers, clothe them and keep
them neat and clean.