Mombrado, Sister Angelita D.C. "Rememberance of My Youth", Memoir


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Sister Angelita Mombrado
I was born in the village of Rippoli, the diocese of Bick, Province of Barcelona,
Spain on the seventh of August, 1833. I was baptized in St. Maria’s church on the eighth
of the same month and confirmed the following week. My parents were born and
married in the same village. My father’s name was John Mombrado and my mother’s
was Margarita Castain. My father was a confectioner by trade and that was his favorite
occupation. He had a special affection for his little family.
My parents were good and industrious Christians. God blessed their marriage
with a family of three sons and four daughters. I was the first daughter and when scarcely
eighteen months old used to give a great deal of trouble by going up and down the stairs
and running over to see my grandmother who lived right opposite our place. One day
while going down the stairs I fell and was seriously injured. I was very sick for some
time. My parents were much grieved for they thought I would die. Every thing was
prepared for my burial; and here I am today at the age of eighty-three a long way from
my country.
I remember my mother used to tell me it cost a great deal of gold to save me and
that I was cured by a miracle. I often think how grateful I ought to be to God for having
given me such good parents.
After my recovery I would not sit any place but on the floor. They used to buy
every kind of char and fancy stool for me to sit on, but I would not, for fear I would fall.
When I was able to walk again and my mother saw I was growing strong and healthy, she
put me in a school with the Nuns. The first lesson they gave me was in knitting
stockings; that is the custom in Spain. The Nuns kept school in a private house because
the persecutors had burned their convent. They used to iron the Church linens beautifully
and I watched them instead of knitting. I was then about four years old.
My mother was very pious. It must have been her prayers that obtained my cure.
She used to take me to Mass every morning. One day she took me to see the ruins of the
Nuns’ convent, so that I would remember it when I grew up.
Very soon there was a war of the Carlos party in Spain and I remember a great
many people came to our house to place themselves under the protection of our Blessed
Mother, as we had an oratory. I was at this time about five years of age. The troops of
soldiers came into our house ready to shoot anyone they met. My mother was confined
to her bed with an infant three days old. The soldiers threw her out of her sick bed and
injured her so badly that she was never well again. My dear father was hidden down in
the cellar behind some barrels. The soldiers went down but did not find him. If they had


found him they would have killed him. My mother, with all the invalids was taken to the
church. My sisters and I were with our grandmother.
After three days one of the good officers of the army approached my mother,
asking her if he could do anything for her. My mother said, “Yes you can do something
for me, but will you do it?” He said he would. Three times she asked him the same
question, for she feared he would not do it. Then he said, “I give you my word.” My
mother then said, “My husband has been in the cellar for the past three days and nights,
bring him to me.” The officer went and called my father from a window opening on the
street. As my father did not answer he called him by name, saying, “Come out I know
you are there, your wife sent me for you.” My father came out wrapped in a black cloak
and said, “My life for the love of God.” The officer led him to the Church pretending he
was an invalid. Then my family left the city and went to a village to live with a family
who were our friends.
My mother was so ill that she has no nourishment for the infant and when passing
over the river on the way to the village she dipped up some water in her hand and gave it
to the baby. They were unable to find out what happened to the other four children.
My brother was stripped of his beautiful velvet suit and left naked in the street;
some of the soldiers wanted to kill him but the others said, “No we have what we want.”
My sister and I were with our grandmother. In passing through the streets we saw the
dead bodies of the victims lying about in thick streams of blood. My father’s store which
was one of the finest was entirely destroyed and he was never able to recover it.
When we all got together again we went to Barcelona. Every little while war
would break out and we would be obligated to leave the city in order to save our lives.
My mother put me in school but it was of no use; the war would break out and the teacher
would tell us to run home. So I had very little opportunity to continue school.
I was hardly eight years old when my mother died. Already capable of feeling
this sacrifice, it seemed to me that our Lord had some special design upon me. When I
was about twelve years of age, I made my first Communion in the church of St.
Augustine, in Barcelona. It was the day the children of the Parish made their First
Communion. I went to confession and the pastor asked me if I had made my First
Communion. I said, “ No Father.” He took me into the sacristy and after examining me
told me I could make my First Communion. I was delighted and my father was very
much pleased and relieved. He would always remind me to go to Confession on my
Feast Day and to go to Catechism in the Church. I remember when in Catechism class
my name was very often called for a premium but I was too proud to go for it for fear it
was not my name as they never spelled it correctly.
Oh, my Saviour it makes me tremble when I think of what my parents went
through during the persecution in Spain. My father must have suffered much for the sake
of his family during the time he was hidden in the cellar. He loved our Blessed Mother
very much and it was on the feast of her Immaculate Conception, at the age of sixty-two,

that he died. My brother wrote me that my father’s last words were, that he died happy to
leave one of his children consecrated to the service of God. That makes me think that he
is in heaven praying for me. He passed through so much; how great is my sympathy for
my parents! They were obliged to leave our native village and go to a strange country.
As young as I was (five years old) I remember when we arrived in Barcelona we had no
shelter for my poor sick mother. I do not recall if we had anything to eat during our
journey. At last my father found a lady whom he knew and who had lived in our village.
She gave us hospitality until my father found a location.
Some time after that, wars broke out in Spain, especially in the city of Barcelona.
Once a bomb fell on our house while we were at dinner and we had to run to the stable to
save ourselves. Sometimes we were obliged to leave the city and got to some hole in a
brick yard. We could see the bombs flying to destroy the city. Oh, my Divine Saviour,
what calamities I have witnessed in my unfortunate country, constantly in trouble. Often
we had to climb to the mountains for safety.
After my mother died my father’s health began to fail. As I was too young to take
care of him, he married an excellent lady, who was very good to him. I was put with a
lady who kept a private school so I could learn something useful. My father was not able
to pay but the lady kept me and I took care of her little boy. She was very good to me. I
was with her five years. From her servant girl, who was very good and pious, I learned
much about Nuns. I liked to listen to her; it recalled the days when I went to school to
them and watched them iron the linens. I thought I would like to be a Nun after hearing
so much of them from the servant girl. I used to dress like one in my play. I began to
have a great esteem for Religious and it was my delight to hear them sing Mass. I took
many a long walk just to pass the convent in the hope of seeing them. My father also
liked to hear them sing the Mass; he was a musician and taught me vocal music when I
was at home.
The servant girl made a deep impression on me. She was instrumental in
discovering my vocation, for after that I had no other desire than to be a religious and
give myself entirely to God. I knew that in order to become a Nun it was necessary to
have a large sum of money. My father could not possibly give it to me; but I trusted in
Divine Providence. I began to pray that I might know how to communicate my desire to
my father. My opportunity came on the twenty-eighth of August, Feast of St. Augustine.
It was Sunday and my father took me for a walk along the seashore. We were conversing
about the beauty of the sea. I had a great horror of the sea, and my father knew it but he
said, “I want to take you to a beautiful place across the water.” I replied, “Oh, no, no,
papa, please.” Then changing the subject, I asked, “ Papa would you like to have one of
your daughters a religious?” He looked at me then said, “Yes I would on condition that
she would be faithful in corresponding to her obligations.” He was acquainted with the
duties of Religious, most of his friends being Priests. His answer made a deep
impression on me but I replied that I thought I would be faithful if I were to become a
Religious since God would help me. He said no more but we continued our walk. After
a while I asked him to take me to a convent that I might speak to a Superioress. He took
me and I told the Superioress my intention and the difficulty concerning the money. She

made me sing; I sang the Immaculate Conception hymn, and she was much pleased with
my voice and told me to learn to play music then I would be received. A friend of the
Nuns was to take care of all my needs. But the Divine Master had other designs. I was
trying to learn music but I feared it would take too long, so I thought I had better apply to
the Sisters of Charity. The Sister Superioress knew me as I had visited her before with a
friend who had joined the Community. I told her my desire and she said she would write
to the Provincial House in Madrid. I waited anxiously for the answer. When I thought it
had arrived I returned to the Sisters’ house but it happened that the Superioress was
paying the nurses and sent word for me to come back the next week. O, my Saviour this
was the Will of God. It was my first trial but I was not discouraged. I lived in hopes that
Divine Providence would enlighten me.
I continued to study. The priest who instructed me was a zealous religious and
relative of ours. One day he told me that Bishop Amat had arrived from Rome and was
in the city looking for students to take with him to California. In fun I asked, “ Is he
looking for girls too.” He said, “Oh, I do not know about that.” What did he do but go
and tell the Bishop what I had said. The Bishop told him to send me to him. The next day
when I went for my lesson he told me Bishop Amat wished to see me. I said, “Oh, no, I
do not go to see Bishops,” but he insisted, urging that he was related to us. I still refused
but he continued to insist until I finally yielded.
As soon as the Bishop saw me he asked if I would like to go to California with
him. Without thinking I said, “ Yes if my father and my confessor will consent.” I did
not think he was in earnest. My father was very sick, so I told him I could not ask his
consent just then.
The Bishop went through the country looking for students and I continued to wait
for a reply from Madrid. When he returned he sent for me and asked me again if I would
like to go with him. He had two other girls so that encouraged me. My father was better
and I began thinking how I should ask his permission, as there was no time to lose. At
last I took courage and asked, “ Papa will you permit me to go with Bishop Amat to
California.” He said, “No what are you thinking about? Do you think going to California
is like going to Gracia (a place to which we often walked) – you must go by sea.” I told
him I was no longer afraid of the sea but he still refused. I went to ask my confessor and
he said the same, arguing that I could do good in my own country. I pleaded that I was
very anxious and that I felt a hand pushing me as if our Lord wanted me to go. Then he
said he would give me three days to think it over, but the Bishop was to sail in two days
and I told him so. Then he said, “I see that you are determined.” Then he gave me his
blessing. I went to see my instructor and told him that my father would not consent. He
went to see him and told him not to prevent me for it might cause him sorrow later. My
father called me and said, “My child I cannot give you my consent, neither can I prevent
you from going. You will have many trials, contradictions and sufferings, then you will
blame me for letting you go.” I do not know where I got the strength to answer him, but I
told him that whatever sufferings came to me I would take as coming from the Hand of
God and never blame him for them. He could say no more but began to weep. He came
with me to see Bishop Amat and the good Bishop encouraged him, telling him not to fret

about me, I would be all right. He told me we were to leave after Mass at which he
would give us Holy Communion.
It was too much for my dear father to see to my passport so I asked my cousin to
attend to it. As for myself, I felt very brave. It was the Hand of God that supported me.
Very early the next morning, which was Sunday, my stepmother, my sister and
my brother accompanied me to the Bishop’s residence. The good Bishop said Mass
immediately, after which we had a cup of chocolate and started off. My folks wanted to
enter the vessel but I would not let them. My father did not accompany me as he was too
much grieved.
We left the city of Barcelona on the twenty-third of April, in the year eighteen
fifty-five. It was the second Sunday after Easter and the feast of the Translation of Relics
of St. Vincent de Paul. It was the year that Spain celebrated the Dogmatic Proclamation
of the Immaculate Conception. The celebration in our parish Church took place the day I
embarked so I did not have the happiness of assisting but I was able to attend the service
in some other churches and they were all very grand.
I no longer had any fear of the sea but we had hardly entered the vessel when I
began to be seasick. I did not know what was the matter with me as I had never been in a
boat before. The Bishop soon perceived that I was sick and asked me if I wanted to go
back. I told him my sacrifice was made already and I was going to continue the journey.
Then he told me that if I died at sea I would be thrown overboard and be eaten by the
fishes. I asked him if it was not the same to be eaten by fishes as by worms. He laughed
and told me I was all right. I thought God would take care of me and if I should die I
would be a martyr and go to heaven. Oh, how grateful I should be to God for having
given me courage, for what would have become of me if I had not listened to His voice.
When we arrived in Marseilles the Bishop went to arrange for the celebration of
Mass. He took us to the English Consul who asked us if we were being forced to go; we
told we were going voluntarily. In the evening we left for Lyons. From Lyons we went
to Havre, where the good Bishop took us to the Sisters’ house. They were just taking the
children to the Parish Church for May devotions, so we went with them. When we
returned the Sisters gave us our supper and then we went to bed and had a good rest. The
next morning the Bishop said Mass in the Chapel. We spent the day with the Sisters.
They very kindly showed us the building. In one class room I saw about three hundred
little children, one of them just three years old, and only one Sister teaching them. Little
did I think I would be doing the same after some years. Later in the day we started for
Paris. We spent the night on the train. I dreamed I saw a very pretty Sister of Charity. I
had never seen the Sisters with the Cornette except in pictures; for in Spain at that time
they did not wear the Cornette. I have heard they do now.
We arrived in Paris at half past five. We were in a hack and as we drove through
the street we saw a Sister of Charity. The Bishop told me she was going to see the
Superiors. The Bishop took us to La Maison de la Providence and the pretty Sister I had

seen in my dreams opened the door for us. I did not see her again although we stayed
sometime in that house.
Our Bishop went to St. Lazarre to see O.M.H. F. Etienne to ask him where it
would be best for us to make our Seminary. O.M.H. F. told him in the U.S. as we could
learn the English language.
We remained in Paris to begin our postulatum until our Bishop was ready to sail.
One day when the Bishop came to see us a Sister was in the parlor counting vestments.
The Bishop remarked how busily she was working for the Missioners and told me to pay
attention for I might have to do the same some day and so I did.
During our stay in Paris I began to understand the French sermons and I was
wishing that we might remain there. But the good Bishop had brought me from Spain to
go to California so I had to keep my word and follow the designs of God.
On the sixteenth day of May we started for the United States in company with the
Bishop, Father Surrentin [Sorrentini], and the students. The previous day the Sisters had
Forty Hours Devotion, and I asked to be allowed to stay up all night but they wouldn’t let
me since I had to travel the next day.
We had a frightful storm. The ship was nearly upset. I was very sick but not
discouraged. I thought of nothing but the Holy Will of God. It was May and I am sure
Our Blessed Mother protected us and enabled me to survive the long journey. Oh! how
grateful I should be to God for what would have become of me if I had not listened to his
The good Bishop thought I was going to die. I passed ten days without eating or
drinking anything. One day a student came to see me and told me they had had beans for
dinner. I said, “Oh, you had beans for dinner; bring me some.” They brought me the
beans and from that time I began to eat and to regain my strength.
We arrived in New York on the Wednesday of Ember Week. The good Bishop
took us to the Spanish Hotel and told us to eat our breakfast. The young Students made
fun of me because I ate such a good breakfast. I told them not to bother me as I had been
fasting long enough.
After breakfast the Bishop sent the Students to the Seminary in Germantown. We
girls remained in New York all day with the Bishop.
In the evening I was sitting by the window and I saw a church all illuminated. I
thought I would like to go to the church for a little while. I asked Father Surrentin
[Sorrentini] and he went laughing to the Bishop to inquire of him what kind of postulants
he had brought – they wanted to go to the Protestant Church.


We next went to Philadelphia. Bishop Amat took us to Sister Gonzaga. She
received us very kindly. Sister had known the Bishop as he had been many years in
Philadelphia before he was consecrated. He left us with the Sisters and went to stay with
his friend, Mr. Lopez, a Spanish gentleman who had married an American lady.
The Lopez family wished us to take dinner with them, so on the feast of the Most
Holy Trinity the Bishop asked Sister Gonzaga to send us to St. John’s Church for Mass
and afterward they took us to their home. It was the feast of the Most Holy Trinity and
we had a grand dinner with our Bishop, Father Surrentin [Sorrentini], the Pastor, and the
Lopez family….
As soon as we were ready Bishop Amat came for us and we started for Baltimore.
Sister Euphemia received us kindly and gave us dinner in the parlor with our good
Bishop. In the evening Sister sent us to Mount Hope Retreat to spend the night. On the
morning of the third of June we left for Emmitsburg. Very Rev. Francis Burlando, our
beloved Father, and Mother Regina received our good Bishop and us very kindly.
On the fifth of June we entered the Seminary. Sister Valentine, Directress, was
extremely kind to us notwithstanding our inability to speak English.
During my Seminary I was often sick due to the change of climate, but I was
never discouraged; I felt happy to be in the Community.
Before our Bishop left he gave us an instruction on perseverance. I am the only
one of the three who persevered. I thank my dear Lord and I hope it will be so to the end.
I kept the words of our dear Bishop and I remembered that he told us that when he was a
novice he had a temptation to leave and he went to the Superior to tell him. When he
knocked at the door the Superior did not hear him so the Bishop went away and the
temptation left him. He never thought of leaving again. The Bishop was Spanish and a
true son of St. Vincent. He had to leave Spain on account of the Revolution.
We received the Holy Habit on October thirteenth, in honor of St. Therese. Sister
Directress said I told her I had a sister named Therese. We remained only a short time in
the Mother House as the Bishop was anxious to start for his diocese.
We started early on the morning of the eighteenth of October. There were five of
us – three Spanish sisters and two of the three American sisters whom the Superiors had
generously given for the California Mission. They were Sister Scholastica and Sister
Ann. Sister Corsina was already in San Francisco.
The whole Community was at Mass. The Sisters sang “Soldiers of Christ Arise.”
After Mass our lamented Father Burlando gave us his blessing and to each Sister, an
We had to go to New York in order to take the Steamer for California. When we
arrived in New York Bishop Amat met us and took us to the hotel where we met thirteen

nuns who were to travel with us as far a Panama. They were going to establish a school
in Chile. Three Jesuit Fathers were also coming with us to California.
We encountered a very bad storm at sea. The steamer was packed and all of the
people were sea sick, even the sailors. I threw myself in a corner and lay down –
Cornette and all. When I was able to rise a man offered me some brandy and I refused it.
On our arrival in Panama the Nuns found they had missed the steamer for Chile.
It distressed them very much to have to remain in Panama for the next steamer as they
feared the Yellow Fever. We were fortunate enough to have to wait only a few hours.
On the Pacific we had a dreadful time. They put us on deck with a crowd of
people. It was so hot we could scarcely breathe. Dear Sister Scholastica went to the
Bishop and asked for another place for she feared we would get sick. The good Bishop
obtained from the captain a nice place. He also lent his own room for Mass. We had
Mass and Holy Communion on Sunday. We made our Confessions sitting beside the
Bishop in the midst of the crowd. The stewardess, who was a Catholic, was very kind to
us and told us to ask for whatever we needed. Every afternoon she brought us a pie.
We arrived in San Francisco at five o’clock in the morning on November
fifteenth. Father Gallagher came to meet the Jesuit Fathers and kindly took us to the
Sisters. They were just going to Mass so we went with them. Father Gallagher took the
Bishop to see the Archbishop Alamany.
Sister Francis McEnnis received us and when we came from Mass we had our
breakfast. You can imagine what a sight we were after being one month at sea without
changing our clothes. We did not wear the Cornette during our journey but only the
bonnet and hoods. When the children saw us they did not think we were Sisters of
Charity until we came down clean and dressed up.
Bishop Amat brought the Archbishop to see us. Our Bishop brought the Pallium
to Archbishop Alamany. Bishop Amat was consecrated in Rome on the eleventh of
March, 1854. Our Holy Father, Pope Pius IX, had given him the body of St. Viviana for
his diocese on condition that he would build the Cathedral in her honor. A number of
Bishops had asked for this body but it was in the designs of Divine Providence that
Bishop Amat should have it for he had not even asked for it. He brought it with him from
Rome to Paris, where he had it fixed with wax. This Saint came all the way to California
with us. Her body was first taken to Santa Barbara where the people received it with
great pomp. It remained there for some time and when the church in Santa Barbara was
burned, the body was removed to Los Angeles and placed in the old Church.
The Cathedral was consecrated on the second Sunday after Easter, April thirtieth,
by Archbishop Alamany, who came from San Francisco for that purpose. Bishop Amat
being then too feeble. In the afternoon of the same day the Translation of the Saint’s
body took place. There were enough people to form a procession from the old Church to
the Cathedral.

The building of the Cathedral cost Bishop Amat and Bishop Mora many anxious
moments for it was not an easy undertaking to raise money in Los Angeles in those days.
Mr. Mesmer offered himself and generously went from house to house begging for
money. He succeeded and the Cathedral was finished and the debts paid.
Now I must continue about our journey. The Bishop left us in San Francisco and
went through the Diocese to find the best location for us. He saw that Monterey was not
much of a place so he went to Los Angeles and decided that was the place for us and for
him. He then wrote Sister Scholastica telling her he had found a place for us in Los
The steamer which could take us near Los Angeles sailed only once a month. It
was ready to sail on the second of January. We were so anxious to begin our work that
we left San Francisco without waiting to be told. The steamer brought us to San Pedro
but as there were not public conveyances of any kind at the time we did not know how
we were going to get to Los Angeles. Fortunately a lady who had traveled with us was
met by a man with a wagon. She offered to take us with her and we were very glad to
accept. The ride was splendid but as we neared the Los Angeles River the wagon stuck
in the mud. There was nobody to pull us out. There were eight of us in the wagon, six
Sisters, the lady, and the driver. We were there a long time, when some travelers came to
our aid and we at last arrived in Los Angeles on the fifth of January, 1856. Our Bishop
did not expect us until the next steamer, that is not for another month; so there was
nobody to meet us. We did not know where to go. There were no streets, no people were
around and only a few houses could be seen here and there….
The house was quite small. The people from whom we bought the place had
brought it from London. They left a little furniture, but one afternoon, they came for it
and we were left without anything. Sister Scholastica told Mr. Moran, our neighbor, that
we had no beds. He said there was nothing he could do but go out to the carpenters and
fill some sacks with shavings. Sister said that would do. We slept on those sacks for
some time. I used to complain that they were awfully hard but Sister would motion with
her finger to say nothing. Later a good lady gave us some wool to make mattresses. It
took us some time to clean the wool. The carpenter made six beds and then we were
grand. The children brought their beds and put them on the floor. We had to walk on
them to go up to ours. In the morning they rolled them up and put them in the summer
house as we needed the room for school. Some of the ladies used to come to the school
with their children. Their servants would bring their lunch and they had their table in the
yard. The room where the children slept was used as oratory, classroom, sewing room
and parlor. Only God knows what we went through but nevertheless we were happy.
In all kinds of weather we had to cross the [Zanja Madre] in a small boat to go to
Mass. We were in great danger of falling in and had to hold each other’s hand to balance


The first Mass we heard in the old church was chanted by the Indian boys, who
were taught by a Brother of the Sacred Heart.
The old parish priest resigned and Father Blasé Bao [Blas Raho] took his place.
The church was in ruins. Father Bao [Raho] repaired it and did a great deal of good for
the people. He was made Vicar-General of the diocese. Father was very good to us and
to our works. He thought we should build as the children were beginning to come and the
house was too small. While the new house was being built we had to rent one in which to
keep school.
The corner stone of the new building was laid on the twenty-ninth of June, Feast
of the Saints Peter and Paul. Father Bao [Raho] gave the children and us a little feast.
He was very devoted and whenever he was given anything he would send it to us. One
day Father came to the house and said he had a very sick man for us to take care of.
Sister Ann said, “Father where can we put a sick man? We have hardly room for
ourselves.” He said we must find a corner as the man had to be cared for or he would die.
Sister Ann said there was a place near the gate where the gardener kept his tools and we
could take them out and put the man in. Father brought he man and he got well. That
was the beginning of the hospital in Los Angeles.
Father Bao [Raho] wrote to St. Joseph’s for some Sisters for Santa Barbara and
some for us.
Father bought three pieces of white [linen] to make dresses for the children so that
they would look nice on Easter. It kept us busy but they were all dressed up on Easter
Sunday and the people admired them very much.
He also gave us a picnic. He wanted to surprise us and said we were going to a
funeral. We went to San Francisco in a stage expecting a real funeral. What did he bring
but a stuffed sheep for us to eat!
Father Burlando sent two Sisters for Santa Barbara. We were expecting two also
but three came, one to take my place. I was sent to Santa Barbara to make a third there.
The Sisters for Los Angeles got there on the second anniversary of our arrival so they
found something done. We were just moving into the new house but I did not get a
chance to sleep in it as they sent me immediately to Santa Barbara. I arrived there on the
eighth of January 1858. The other sisters were Sister Mollain [Mullane], who was Sister
Servant, and Sister Andrea. We began the Mission. The house had been lent to us for
five years. We had the wealthiest children in the town in our school. Sister Andrea was
teacher. The Sister Servant and I had to keep house but she was sick all the time. I had
to do the cooking. I never liked kitchen work but Sister Servant said I should stay in the
kitchen until I did like it. I tried my best and on days when Sister Servant was in bed I
had to bring her a little of everything that I cooked so she could see if it was well
prepared…. I had to wait on the children and take my meals with them. Sister Andrea
was very generous. She attended to the supper and made the bread three times a week
before going to class. At recess time she would put it in the oven. On Saturdays I took

care of the children and Sister Andrea kept house and washed the clothes. I also kept the
sewing class.
With a bucket and rope we had to draw from the well all the water we used. The
kitchen had to be moved outside on account of the smoke. I was nearly blinded by it.
Some days the Sister Servant would have to go to her room and ask our Blessed Mother
to make the fire burn and to keep the smoke down so that I could get dinner ready on
One day I was not able to hold up my head I felt so ill. There was no one to get
the dinner as the Sister Servant was sick in bed. The dinner hour came and everything
was cooked. It was cooked by Divine Providence; I really did not do it and there was
nobody else there. The same day after supper the Sister Servant told me to take the
children for a walk. I had to tell her that I could not walk. Then she told me to finish the
rest of the ironing. I felt so sick I thought I would drop dead. I often think now that I
should have done as I was told, even if I had died taking the children out.
I slept in the large girls dormitory. We went to bed at the usual time but I did not
get up at four o’clock. Sister came and made me get up. I heard the girls say it was cruel
for they knew I was sick.
That Sister Servant was only one year in Santa Barbara. She was in the last stages
of consumption. She worked as hard as any of us. She would clean the store room which
was a very dusty place, and the rats and squirrels made plenty of dirt. The place was very
old and damp. I wrote a letter one day and when I went to get it the next day it was all
wet. It was even very hard to keep a fire burning for the sick Sister Servant.
We had to cross the wet, muddy yard to get what we needed for cooking. Once
there was a great flood and our whole place was filled with water. Fortunately, there
was, at the time, a regiment of soldiers in town and the doctor asked the colonel to send
some of them to open a place in the wall so the water could escape. They had no sooner
done so than the water flowed out and we were saved. After that, the soldiers came to
our well for the water as they couldn’t get it any place else for the other wells were dry.
Then ours used to get dry after the wash was finished since the soldiers drew so much.
Sister Andrea and I worked together and were happy in the midst of trials and
inconveniences. I had a great trial and thought of leaving the Community. I was far
away from home and would have had no place to go. I recommended myself to the
prayers of the children without telling them my intention. Our Lord heard their prayers
and the next morning, I had no thought of leaving and have not had any since. How
grateful I ought to be to God for giving me courage to persevere in my dear vocation after
many trials and difficulties.
Our Sister Servant had gone to Los Angeles. She thought she would get well
there but she died in a short time. It was more than a month before we learned of it as the
mail came by the steamer which made only one voyage a month.

We were only three young sisters, not one of us had made the Holy Vows yet; so
dear Sister Frances McEnnis sent us an older Sister – Sister Polycarp O’Driscoll. She was
made Sister Servant and we liked her very much. She made many improvements in the
house and school.
My health began to fail due to the dampness and over-work. Sister Polycarp took
me out of the kitchen and put me in the school. I knew I was not capable of teaching but
I fulfilled my duties in obedience and was very devoted to it so our dear Lord helped me.
I had a good voice so I used to sing with the children in church until we got a teacher.
When everything was going nicely our Lord sent us a cross. That year was so dry
that the people lost everything; even the cattle died. They were not able to pay the tuition
and we began to feel real poverty.
The house had ben lent to us for only five years and we thought that at the end of
that time we would be able to build, but we were not. It happened that on the very day
that the loan expired, Mr. Aguire, the owner, wanted the house, so we had to leave it.
Fortunately Dr. Den gave us a Ranch in Cinegites [Cieneguitas], so we went there and
took the orphans with us. The house was very small but we made it larger by boarding it
all around. We made an inner room for the children, a clothes room, a wash room and a
little parlor. There was also a small kitchen and a very tiny attic out of which we made a
dormitory. I slept up there and the roof was so low that I had to stoop in order to get in
bed. Once in bed I could not turn over without bumping my head. There were holes in
the wall and I was often visited by rats. In the morning I sometimes found them drowned
in my wash basin. Oh! it was terrible. The foxes howled all night trying to get the
chickens. I couldn’t sleep for fear that they would climb up, as we had made steps
leading up to the attic and had turned one of the windows into a door. It had to be kept
closed all night on account of the tramps so that left only one window for air.
We had Mass only on Sundays and not then if it rained. The church was a small
one that the Indians had attended. It was a long distance from our house and it was
usually one o’clock before we got home and had our breakfast. If it happened to rain, we
got home all wet and muddy. Sometimes our clothing was so drenched that we had the
whole house wet.
The house was on a hill and in order to get water we had to go down to the creek
with buckets and carry it up. We did this every day after dinner and supper. There was
no way of washing the clothes so Sister took some of the larger girls and went to a distant
creek to wash them. They would bring them home in the evening all dry and ready to
We were given two hundred sheep. Sister gave me two little lambs to care for.
To feed them I would dip my fingers in a basin of milk and they would suck the milk.
They began to be troublesome as they grew so Sister gave them to a little boy who was
always around our house. His mother had the lambs killed but the boy would not eat any

dinner. He went to his aunt and then to his grandmother and found they also had some of
the lamb. So he ate no dinner that day
I was not very well. My Sister Servant wanted to send me to San Francisco. I
said, “Oh, no Sister do not send me away, let me die here.” Sister said, “I do not want you
to die, I want you to get well but here we are so crowded. Let us see what Sister
Scholastica will say.” Sister Scholastica told Sister to send me to her. I was delighted to
go to Los Angeles, to my dear first mission.
I arrived there in Holy Week so I had the good fortune of assisting at the
ceremonies of that week. I gained a little strength and after one month I was sent to San
Francisco with a band of five young sisters who had just received the Holy Habit. We
had the Seminary in Los Angeles at that time. Sister Scholastica was Directress and
Father Smith [Asmuth], Director. He did not live long. Father McGill succeeded him.
Father Smith [Asmuth] was in San Francisco when I got there with the young
Sisters. He sent them to different missions. Sister Frances McEnnis kept me with her. I
was not well so she sent me to Mount St. Joseph’s. I got a little stronger there and was
just beginning to feel at home when I was sent to St. John the Baptist's. They needed
someone who could speak Spanish. I was there eighteen months. Then they sent me
back to Santa Barbara.
We only had one Mass a week there and I found that very hard. At one time we
did not have Mass for several weeks, from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the
last of January. No priest could get to us on account of the floods and heavy rain. The
little adobe church that we attended was a long distance from our house. Sometimes we
were caught in the rain. When we got home I would have to put the children to bed for
fear they would catch cold. Sometimes it was two o’clock before we could get our
breakfast. I used to say, “Oh, dear Lord surely my sins must be forgiven.” I was an
angel for the children. They gave me a great deal of trouble because the Sister who had
had charge of them let them have their own way.
The Pastor and his assistant took turns to say Mass. When it was the Pastor’s
turn, he would hear our confession and the children’s before Mass. The large girls
received Holy Communion once a month and the little ones went to confession every
three months.
We would send the horse to the priest’s house on Saturday afternoon, by anyone
that we could get to take it. When the priest got back home, he would take off the saddle
and say, “Now George go home.”
When we wanted to go to the town we had to go in the stage. It was very
convenient as it passed near our place morning and evening and we did not have to pay
any fare.


Our big feast days we took the children to the Mission in our big wagon but not
all could go. It was the greatest penance I could give them to keep some of them home
for being bad. They would try very hard to be good for the next time. I remember once I
punished one of them and kept her home on Ash Wednesday. While we were at church,
she went to the kitchen and blackened her face with ashes from the stove. When we
came home she said, “See I had ashes too.”
After leading this kind of life for three years I told the Sister Servant I thought we
should be in the city among the people and not out among the cattle. I suggested that we
beg for money to build. We went to the city to beg and got enough money to build a
small house. When it was finished, we left the ranch in Cinegites [Cieneguitas]; I never
saw it again and I am not sorry.
We kept school but found it hard to keep things going. Sometimes we had very
little to eat. One day when I had the children out walking, we passed a garden, one of
them said, “This is my uncle’s garden, let us go in and he will give us some vegetables.”
We went in and he was glad to see us and gave us plenty of vegetables. After that he sent
vegetables to us daily; God bless him. We then got along very nicely.
We went to the parish church every day for Mass. On Sundays and holidays we
had Vespers. Some days we had a second Mass. On those days we took turns to stay at
home. We had charge of the choir. I used to sing with the children. My singing days are
over now, and it is about time at the age of eighty-four.
After a long time, I was sent back to Los Angeles. When I had been forty-seven
years in California I was sent here to El Paso. It broke my heart to leave the children in
California. I love children especially the orphans. I had left my country to come to
California and I nearly died of grief when I was missioned. Besides my dear old Sister
Servant had been in bed sick for three years. When I went in to say goodbye to her, I
said, “Dear Sister Scholastica we came together to Los Angeles and I thought we would
die together but now we are to part.” I felt very bad but I tried hard to keep back the
tears. I paid for it later, for when I arrived in El Paso I became very ill. I turned as
yellow as gold; the doctor told me I was in danger of being robbed.
When I got well, I went on duty in the Chapel. I have had that duty for the past
forty years, fourteen of which I have spent here in El Paso. I do not know how long I will
remain here. My wish is to spend the rest of my days in Santa Barbara, because there is
not one of the Sisters of the first band that went there, buried there, and I am the only one
of them living. Yet I am satisfied to do the Holy Will of God and of my Superiors.
Now I must say more about Los Angeles. The first house was built on Alamany
[Alameda] Street. The corner stone was laid by Very Rev. Blasé Bao [Blas Raho] on the
twenty-ninth of June, feast of SS. Peter and Paul. It was not a very large house and was
situated in a public place, for which reasons we sold it after some years and bought a
place on Boyle Heights. The digging of the foundation was begun on the tenth of
February, 1888. Bishop Mora laid the corner stone. On September fourteenth, 1889, we

moved in and our moving was great trouble. I had thought I would cry my eyes out when
it came time to leave the old house, but I had no time for that. I was kept busy arranging
things for the Chapel. I put them all into a trunk but could get no one to take it to the new
house. Mrs. Workman was going to take Sister Scholastica to the new house in her
buggy. I wanted to go with them but it was getting late and I had to see the trunk off. At
last I got a wagon from a nearby store and was so happy at my success that I rode home
in it. Then the driver took the trunk to the new house and I went in Mrs. Workman’s
It was very late when I arrived. The altar had been brought from the old house
and we were to have Mass the next morning, so I had to arrange for it. The Sisters said
their night prayers and after they finished they put the candle out and I was left in the
dark. I did not know where to go. I had no supper after working hard all day.
Fortunately Sister Lucy Coleman took me by the arm and led me to a bed in the
infirmary. There were no covers on it but I lay down without taking off my clothes and
slept soundly all night.
After Mass and breakfast, I straightened the Altar and as there was little
water in the new house I had to go to the old house for some days to wash the Chapel
The first Sunday we spent in the new house, I intended after Mass and
Benediction and my morning prayers to go to bed and rest. I was worn out after the long
walks. But I was told to go to Mass in the city. I felt as if I would drop on the way but I
went, through obedience, and nothing happened to me.
We were many years in California before our Superior came to see us. In 1875
Mother Euphemia came to visit us. Some of the Sisters who had been exiled from
Mexico were with us at the time and I thought I would be missioned. Mother Euphemia
told me that she had not thought of it but that I had put the thought in her mind. I asked
her if she remembered the nice dinner she had given us with Bishop Amat. Sister said she
well remembered the trouble they had to get it.
Bishop Amat told us that he was going to give us three Vincentians. They arrived
in San Francisco on the ninth of March, 1864 and came to Los Angeles the eighth of May
to open a college. We were delighted to see them. Their names were Father A. Smith
[Asmuth], Father Rubi and Father Becker [Beakey]. They lived in an old house opposite
the old Church. Later Mrs. Chaills [Childs] gave them a place and they built a house and
began the college. We had to send them their meals for some time, that is, until they
were settled.
Father A. Smith [Asmuth] died and Father McGill came to take his place. A little
later our Superior General, Father Etienne died and Father McGill was sent to Assembly
and did not return. Then Father Richardson took charge of the college which was then on
Sixth Street. Father Richardson and Father Landry built a very pretty place. Some time
after Father Meyer was sent to replace Father Richardson. He was obliged to sell the old

place and bought a new one on Grand Avenue. Father built a college and a church to
which he gave the name of St. Vincent de Paul. At that time the place was considered to
be very far away, now it is in the best part of the city.
Before the reservoir was built the people use to carry the water in buckets from
the [zanja]. They washed their clothes, bathed and emptied refuses in the same place.
I remember when the first train passed near our house; the children were all
excited and I had to open the window to let them see it.
President Lincoln passed on the train and he asked the conductor who lived in our
place. When he was told that the Sisters of Charity lived there he said, “Oh, they have a
nice place.” That was the old place on Alamany [Alameda] Street.
Oh, those happy days in California. The long walks on dusty roads that charity
and duty required us to make were a great pleasure to me. I remember the first act of
charity that we performed in Los Angeles. A poor Indian who had worked for our
neighbor, Mr. Moran, died. Mr. Moran begged us to come to his funeral. The coffin was
put on a wagon and we walked behind it. It was a very long walk over a dusty road but
that was the only way to bury the dead in those days.
The Indian boys, who were taught by a Brother of the Sacred Heart, used to sing
the Mass. We had charge of the school and later of the choir also. Sister Corsina was a
good singer, so she taught the children to sing the Mass. Sometime after Theresa Fox, a
young girl from San Francisco came to be our music teacher. She was the first young girl
to leave from California for St. Joseph’s to join the Community. I do not know if she is
living now or not.
In the afternoon, after school, Sister Scholastica would send us into our garden to
pick strawberries. We grew enough of a variety of fruits to be able to sell some, and thus
obtained money to buy flour and other necessary things. We also had a large vineyard.


Dublin Core


Mombrado, Sister Angelita D.C. "Rememberance of My Youth", Memoir


Mombrado, Sister Angelita, D.C., California, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Hospital, Orphanage, City of Angels, Amat, Bishop Thaddeus, C.M., Spanish Revolution, Catholic Diocese of Monterey, Los Angeles Orphan Asylum, Institucion Caritativa, Memoir, St. Vincent's Medical Center, St. Vincent's Institution


In the fall of 1855, six sisters left Emmitsburg (three of whom had been recruited in Spain by Bishop Amat) and journeyed to California, one destined for San Francisco and five for the Diocese of Monterey. The sisters journeyed by steamer to Panama and crossed the Isthmus eventually arriving in San Pedro on January 6, 1856. Five of the sisters traveled on to Los Angeles where they founded an orphanage, school and infirmary. In her memoir Remembrance of My Youth, Sister Angelita Mombrado looks back on her years in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.


Mombrado, Sister Angelita, D.C.


Daughters of Charity, Province of the West




Gainey, Sister Margaret Ann (Editor)
Marca, Nicole (Editor)


Copyright 2020
Daughters of Charity
Seton Provincialate
Los Altos Hills, CA 94002








DCLosAltos_Remberence of My Youth by Sister Angelita Mombrado.pdf


Los Angeles
Santa Barbara 1833-1917


Mombrado, Sister Angelita, D.C. , “Mombrado, Sister Angelita D.C. "Rememberance of My Youth", Memoir,” Sisters of Charity Federation Archives, accessed October 2, 2023,


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