Alicia Domon and Léonie Duquet

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During the period of 1976 to 1983 a military dictatorship in Argentina conducted a “dirty war” against “subversives” and dissidents. Thousands of civilians were killed; many more “disappeared”—abducted by the military, never to be seen again. Two French nuns, Sisters Alicia Domon and Léonie Duquet, were among them.  

Both members of the Toulouse Institute of the Sisters of Foreign Mission, these women were among the many foreign missioners who came to work in Latin America in the 1960s. While at first they engaged in traditional ministries, by 1969, like many other religious of the time, they had moved out of their convent and into an urban shantytown to share the life of the poor.  

Sr. Alicia became involved with the “Mothers of the Disappeared,” who gathered in the central plaza each day, holding photographs of their missing children, offering a silent rebuke to the military regime. On December 8, 1977, she and eleven other women were seized. Her housemate Sr. Léonie was also picked up. Though neither of them was ever seen again, later reports confirmed that they had been tortured and then tossed from an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean.  

Several months before her death Alicia had written to the archbishop of Toulouse: “I would ask you not to do anything to save me which could endanger others. I have already made the sacrifice of my life.”  

“I didn’t come here [to the shantytown] to tell people what they had to do but in order that we could help each other and share life’s joys and sorrows.”  

—Sr. Alicia Domon  

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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