Mother Cherubina Clare of Holy Mary
Rosa Raquel Goldberger de Morla
Born 24 August 1897
Entered Notting Hill Poor Clare Colettines 3 March 1915
Clothed in the habit 8 September 1915
Professed 3 October 1916
Sent on the foundation to Wales 30 June 1928
Elected Abbess first Abbess of the foundation 10 December 1928
Took Solemn vows 16 June 1953 (as did all the Sisters - Britain had just ceased to be missionary territory!)
Died 28 November 1972
Rosa Raquel de Morla was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her Father, Julio de Morla had just been appointed his country’s representative to the Vatican. So, though Rosa had to wait several months for the privilege, she was baptised by a Cardinal in Saint Peter’s on the 31 January 1894!
From this auspicious beginning, she never looked back, but her “conversion”, the small event that changed her unthinking little life, came one day as she and her brothers hid behind the stair rail to watch the guests arriving for some great diplomatic party at the Embassy in Paris. There was some disagreement as to precedence, and Rosa pushed Omero (or, as she always maintained, Omero pushed Rosa) and sounds of fratricidal strife penetrated to the guests below. Her Uncle Ovidio, bounded up the stairs to silence the combatants. He took from his pocket a miniature statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Sitting holding it, Rosa was silenced, and, her family say, that from that day, she had it settled in her own mind that she would become a Poor Clare.
Sara Goldberger, Mother Cherubina’s mother, was born in Lima in Peru - hence the devotion to St Rosa after whom she named her first daughter. She was the only child of a wealthy German and Jewish family. Julio de Morla was a widower of thirty-seven when they met, and Sara was sixteen, but he fell in love with her, and possibly her fortune, and they married before her seventeenth birthday. They had 10 children: Augusto, Arturo, Rosa, Omero, Aïda, Carlos, Ovidio, Esther, Olga and Riccardo.
When Rosa was about seven, the Family moved to Paris where her Father was appointed as Ecuadorean ambassador. As a family they spoke Spanish, French and German trilingually, the children also learned Italian and English.
Rosa was sent to school at St Mark’s Cross, and later with the Holy Child nuns at Mayfield in England. She was always a girl of decided character, and she was remembered there, possibly not with unalloyed affection, as the leader of a singularly graceful revolt. She disapproved of the hideous pleated Gym-slips that comprised their school uniform. At a mere thirteen she arranged for the nice dress shop which they passed on their daily walk to sell each girl the material for a skirt and blouse. Each day, as the crocodile went round a girl slipped in, by prearrangement collected her material. Back at school, Rosa cut them out [after lights out in the dormitory] and made them up on a machine in the attic. The nuns were obliged to accept this fait acompli!
In 1914 the first world war broke out, and Rosa, whose father had died a few months earlier, was sent for safety to her uncle Ovidio, Ecuadorean Ambassador to Great Britain. She knew that her mother would not give her consent to her becoming a nun so, as soon as she could, she seized her freedom - in order to give it to God. Accompanied by her favourite brother Omero she went to the Poor Clare Monastery in Notting Hill, where she was received and entered. In the gallery attached is a picture of Mother in her bride's dress, which she would have worn at her clothing. The photo was taken at Lourdes in 1915 and is signed Soeur Querubina-Clare; so she had obviously taken a lot of advance thought, providing her own dress - a year in advance and settling her own name!
The Abbess of the Poor Clares at Notting Hill, London, was Mother Mary Felix Clare Vaughan, a member of the famous Welsh Catholic family which included her uncles, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, Archbishop Roger Vaughan and the Jesuit Father Bernard Vaughan, as well as her cousin, Bishop Francis Vaughan of Menevia. At the time of his Silver Jubilee, Bishop Vaughan asked for a foundation of Poor Clares in Wales.
Shortly after her profession, Mother Cherubina was made Novice Mistress at Notting Hill. When the Welsh foundation was to be made, she was chosen to be the first abbess. The sisters first came to a council house in Flint in 1928 and moved in 1930 here to Hawarden, building the present monastery as funds and opportunity presented themselves.