Felicitas Guerrero, the murder of the most beautiful woman in the country: a scorned man and a tragedy that became a legend

January 30, 2022

Felicitas Guerrero was widowed very young, and inherited a fortune from her husband, Martín de Alzaga

Felicitas she was young, rich, beautiful and loved the countryside. He used to spend seasons in his farm “La Postrera”, in the district of Castelli, where sheep were raised. She also owned thousands of hectares, which ranged from the Salado River to the current district of General Madariaga. “La Postrera” was his favorite. Those fields had belonged to Ambrose Cramer, died in the revolution of the Free of the South in 1839. Its name alludes that it was in the confines of civilization and was the last milestone in front of the lands dominated by the indigenous.

When she was widowed and found herself possessing an immense fortune, and owner of thousands of hectares, she dedicated herself to managing them. He used to go to the countryside in the company of his aunt Tránsito Cueto.

It was one of those afternoons worthy of a movie scene. Walking with her carriage through lands far from her ranch, she was surprised by a storm and got lost. Suddenly, she came across a horseman who reassured her and accompanied her on the way back. it was called Samuel Saenz ValienteHe was young and rancher.

The crush was mutual.

Felicitas was born in Buenos Aires on February 26, 1846. Her father charles warrior He was a shipping agent and his mom, Felicitas Cueto, sister of renowned Buenos Aires shopkeepers. At 18, her father arranged her marriage. The candidate was 32 years older: Martin Gregorio de Alzaga, 50 years old, had a fortune of 60 million pesos and the marriage was perfect to strengthen ties that went beyond feelings.

The Álzaga surname was one of those that was repeated in the history books. His grandfather, Martin, had had an outstanding performance during the English invasions and had been shot in July 1812 when the secretary Bernardino Rivadavia involved him in a conspiracy to overthrow the First Triumvirate.

Felicitas’s protests were useless. On June 2, 1864, he married. They had two children. Felix Francis, died on October 3, 1869 at the age of 3, a victim of the yellow fever epidemic, and Martin, who died at birth on March 2, 1870. Álzaga died the day before, on March 1, 1870, deeply affected by the disappearance of his son.

Felicitas, 24 years old, became a beautiful widow, owner of an important fortune, and she did not lack suitors. She was known as “the most beautiful woman in the Republic” or “the jewel of the Buenos Aires salons”.

Place of the tragedy.  The rest house of the Guerrero family, in Barracas, when the Santa Felicitas church already existed
Place of the tragedy. The rest house of the Guerrero family, in Barracas, when the Santa Felicitas church already existed

One of those who was attracted to her was called Enrique Ocampo, also from a renowned family. The one who would be the great-uncle of the writer Victoria Ocampo He visited her in the hope of being able to formalize a relationship, although Felicitas kept a friendly distance.

By that time he had already announced his engagement to Saenz Valiente, news that Ocampo could not digest.

The couple announced their engagement for January 29, 1872. The meeting would take place in the rest house that the Guerreros owned in Barracas, where the “Quinta de la Noria” used to be, next to Calle Larga, which was the original name of Montes de Oca avenue.

Martín Gregorio de Álzaga, the husband of Felicitas, immortalized in a statue found inside the church of Santa Felicitas
Martín Gregorio de Álzaga, the husband of Felicitas, immortalized in a statue found inside the church of Santa Felicitas

He had hectic days ahead. He was organizing the inauguration of an iron bridge over the Salado river, near “La Postrera”, which would allow transit even with floods. It would be an important act, planned for February 3 -anniversary of the battle of Caseros-, in the same field that the Buenos Aires governor would attend Emilio Castro. Felicitas planned to include in the celebration a simulation of the Revolution of 1839, with the participation of a cavalry squadron with horsemen dressed in light blue shirts.

That day, she had gone downtown to do some shopping. When he returned in the evening, the guests were already there. Before going up to their rooms to change, they told her that Ocampo was waiting for her to talk to her in private. She sent someone to tell him that she couldn’t see him, but the visitor, installed in the room, insisted on speaking with her.

Felicitas was in the company of her close friend Albina Casares. also their relatives Bernabé Demaría, your son Cristian and his wife Transit.

After greeting her fiancé and the guests, she went to the living room where a troubled Ocampo was waiting for her. The Demaría they offered to accompany her but she refused. She didn’t want her friend to do it either. Bee. Everyone would wait expectantly behind the door to listen to the conversation.

Enrique Ocampo, the suitor who triggered the tragedy on the night of January 29, 1872.
Enrique Ocampo, the suitor who triggered the tragedy on the night of January 29, 1872.

They argued. They heard Ocampo ask Felicitas if she was going to marry him or Samuel. They say that he demanded that she not see another man, which drove Felicitas out of her mind: how dare he ask her for something like that, that she would marry whoever suited her. He demanded that he never return to the house.

At that moment, Ocampo pulled out a revolver. She got scared and tried to leave the room. A shot and a scream were heard.

Bernabé and Cristian Demaría entered and they saw Felicitas with a bloody back, walking staggering. He fell to the floor when the tail of his robe caught on the corner of a piece of furniture, but he was able to get up and go out into the hallway, where he collapsed.

They all surrounded her. Saenz Valiente hugged her. She asked him: “I’m dying, I’m dying, don’t abandon me right now…”. They took her to her room.

What happened after the tragedy? One version says that Ocampo committed suicide, and others that the aggressor was killed by Felicitas’ cousin.

The story went like this. When the Demarias entered, Ocampo fired at them, and the bullet lodged in a window frame. Cristian threw himself on him and they struggled. He was able to take the revolver from him and wounded him in the chest. Years later Bernabé Demaría recalled that “Ocampo’s white vest was smoking with blood and fire.”

Still wounded, Ocampo wanted to take his thick rapier stick and Cristian put the barrel of the weapon in his mouth and fired. It smashed his skull.

In the meantime, they had called the doctors Oca Mountains Y Larrosa. They verified that the projectile had entered above the right shoulder blade and had affected the spine and the lung.

He lay in agony for a few hours and died at dawn the following day, January 30. She was veiled in the family home of Mexico 524, in the San Telmo neighborhood and buried in the Recoleta Cemetery. The irony of fate wanted his funeral procession to coincide, at the entrance to the necropolis, with that of his murderer, Ocampo.

Judge Angel Justiniano Carranza ruled that Ocampo had committed suicide and closed the case.

Front of the Santa Felicitas church, erected in memory of the girl murdered in 1872 (Courtesy Diary of a tourist)
Front of the Santa Felicitas church, erected in memory of the girl murdered in 1872 (Courtesy Diary of a tourist)

Felicitas’ parents, disconsolate, had a church built in the place where they had killed her. This is how the church of Santa Felicitas was born on January 30, 1879, on Isabel La Católica 520, in front of Plaza Colombia, in Barracas. Her parents died waiting in vain for authorization to bury their daughter’s remains there.

Samuel Saenz Valiente got married with Dolores Justa de Urquiza Costa, daughter of the entrerriano caudillo. They had six children and he committed suicide on January 11, 1924.

The temple preserves a statue of Felicitas and her husband Martín. Tradition has it that girls who want to recover a lost love must tie a handkerchief to the church railings. And that the handkerchiefs, the next morning, if they wake up wet, it is because of the tears of Felicitas, whose spectrum, according to legend, would appear on the anniversaries of his tragic death.

It is that her story still causes sadness and melancholy in the visitors who feel that Felicitas is still there, looking for her happiness.


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