Blessed Maria Paschalis Jahn and nine companions Blessed Maria Paschalis Jahn and nine companions 

Poland: Ten nuns beatified, martyrs of wartime violence

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, celebrates Mass in Wrocław to beatify 10 Polish nuns who cared for the elderly, the sick, and children and were killed in hatred of the faith by Soviet soldiers in 1945. Pope Francis paid tribute to their witness during the Sunday Angelus.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The 10 Elizabethan sisters took care of the elderly, the sick, and children, and remained faithful to their vow of chastity and to their vocation. They were murdered by soldiers of the Red Army in 1945.

Their beatification took place on 11 June in the Cathedral in the Polish city of Wrocław. The Mass was presided over by the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, who compared their martyrdom to the current situation in Ukraine.

"The whole life of these sisters was a true gift of self in service to the sick, the little ones, the poor, the most needy. Their selfless love was heroic to the extent that they chose not to flee from the approaching Red Army in late 1944-45. And this despite the news of its brutality and the atrocities committed by its soldiers against the inhabitants of East Prussia," said Cardinal Semeraro in his homily.

Beatification Mass of ten Elizabethan sisters
Beatification Mass of ten Elizabethan sisters

At the conclusion of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis paid tribute to the ten sisters.

“Although they were aware of the risks they were running, these three women religious remained alongside the elderly and sick people they were looking after. May their example of faith to Christ help us all, especially Christians who are persecuted in various parts of the world, to bear witness to the Gospel courageously. A round of applause for the new Blesseds!”

Cardinal Semeraro stressed that the martyrdom of the 10 Elizabethan sisters brings to mind the violence, cruelty, and hatred that now afflict Ukraine.

He noted that gestures of selfless love and concern for others build peace and are a response to the violence that occurs in the face of war.

In the face of ongoing war, the Cardinal encouraged fervent prayer through the intercession of the new blessed.

“We ask the Lord through their intercession that the world may never again lack respect for womanhood, equality in the dignity of man and woman and protection of motherhood. (...) Today we commend to them in a special way the Ukrainian people, migrants and our quest for peace.”

The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints recalled Pope Francis' words in which the Holy Father thanks the Poles for being the first to support Ukraine by "opening their borders, their hearts and the doors of their homes to Ukrainians fleeing war."

Faithful following the Mass also outside the Cathedral
Faithful following the Mass also outside the Cathedral

Sister Maria Paschalis Jahn was born on 7 April 1916 in Nysa. After taking her religious vows, she stayed in Kluczbork, Glubczyce, Nysa, and then in the Czech Republic.

On 11 May 1945, Sister Paschalis was brutally attacked by a Soviet soldier, defending her chastity and faith, and shot by him. Like 9 other sisters, although they lived in different places and took up different jobs, she remained faithful to her vocation to the end, giving her life in defence of her charges.

The Elizabethan sisters stress that the beatification of the ten nuns is a symbol of remembrance of the tragic death of all nuns who died at the hands of the Soviet Army in 1945. They estimate that over 100 sisters of their congregation died in similar circumstances.

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth was founded in Nysa in 1810. The main goal of the congregation is selfless service to those in need, especially the suffering and the sick.

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth is currently active in 19 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. About 1,000 sisters work in hospitals, kindergartens, schools and parishes. The sisters run community centres, nursing homes, orphanages, educational institutions and boarding schools.

In the Church, the liturgical commemoration of Sister Paschalis Jahn and her companions, martyrs of the Congregation of St. Elizabeth, will be celebrated annually on 11 May.

Updated 12 June at 13:30

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12 June 2022, 08:53