In 1873, a young Spaniard, Raphaela Mary Porras had begun searching for a way that she could serve God. It was then that along with her older sister, Dolores, Raphaela Mary decided to enter religious life. They joined other young Spanish women who were beginning their religious training with a Congregation of sisters in Córdoba, Spain. It was a personal journey and a spiritual journey for the young women. It was for them a journey of faith.
Along the way, church authorities and the religious community mission had some disagreements about their future role as educators in Córdoba, and the sisters decided to leave the diocese. Raphaela, her sister and some of the other novices remained there to form a new community. Their intention was to base their religious life on the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This meant that their mission would be “universal, like the church.”
When the young novices were ready to profess their vows, they were presented with yet another challenge by the bishop of Córdoba, and instead of making their vows, they left Córdoba. Traveling by train, the novices headed for a new destination – Madrid. It was, in many ways, a journey of hope.
By April 14, 1877, the first leg of their journey had come to an end, when they earned the approval of the Cardinal in Madrid to begin their community and on that day the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was established.
From 1877 on, as their numbers grew, the Handmaids ventured to other cities in Spain, and by 1921 the congregation had communities in other countries as well - in Italy Argentina, England, Peru and Cuba. In l926-27 the congregation made foundations in three new locations – Bolivia, Chile, and the US. Their work, their vision, was spreading, and their journey was indeed continuing.