Blessed Aguchita


A martyr of mercy

Antonia Luzmila Rivas López, known affectionately in religious life as ‘Aguchita’, was born on June 13, 1920, in Coracora, Peru. At the age of 14, she moved to Lima to study at Sevilla College, run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. Attracted by the mission of the sisters, she entered the Congregation in 1941, where she made her temporary religious profession on February 8, 1945, and her perpetual profession on February 8, 1949.

She lived in Lima until 1988, carrying out various services which included teaching at the school of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and working with homeless and abandoned at-risk children.

Throughout her life, Aguchita dreamed of ministering to the people in the Amazon jungle and finally realized that dream when she was sent to La Florida. Here the Congregation managed a mission with a particular focus on supporting the local women and indigenous communities. However, by the late 1980s, violence pervaded Peru’s central Amazonian region, at the hands of the guerillas of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). Despite the growing danger, the Congregation maintained its presence through its mission of carrying out programs on health, education, nutrition, literacy, crafts, and family catechesis.

Initially, locals in La Florida supported the terrorists, hoping for an improvement in living conditions, but soon distanced themselves due to the violence and the climate of terror that had been established. Aguchita carried out her mission in the village and saw this new assignment as a further opportunity to be with the poor.

She was determined to remain close to the local population. Tragically, on September 27, 1990, an armed group of Sendero Luminoso raided La Florida, captured some of the local people, and brought them to the main square. Not having found the community leader of the convent, the rebels held Aguchita captive and brought her to the main square with the others where they shot her and the others to death.

The accusation made against her by the rebels was that she was a peacemaker who, with her charitable works and educational activity, had diverted young people from armed insurrection. Out of fear, the bodies of Aguchita and the other victims were left untouched in the square all night until they were buried the next day.

In 2018, the Congregation transferred her remains from Lima to La Florida where she had said she always wanted to remain, even after death. The ceremonies were solemn, reverent, and moving, with several hundred local people from the surrounding area attending.

She was beatified in La Florida, Peru, on May 7, 2022.

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