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Let Jesus Christ feed the hungers of your life, Pope Francis says on Corpus Christi

Pope Francis waves to crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square on June 19, 2022, on Corpus Christi Sunday. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, Jun 19, 2022 / 09:56 am (CNA).

The Feast of Corpus Christi is a time for Christians to remember that God will meet their basic needs to eat and to be filled with the joy and amazement of receiving loving nourishment from Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Sunday.

At the same time, the pope emphasized, the Eucharist must also move Christians to action.

“We can evaluate our Eucharistic Adoration when we take care of our neighbor like Jesus does,” the pope said Sunday before the recitation of the Angelus at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

“There is hunger for food around us, but also for companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized. We find this in the Eucharistic Bread — the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”

The pope’s remarks reflected on Sunday’s Gospel reading, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from the Gospel of Luke. 

The pope linked the reading to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Eucharist was like “the destination of a journey along which Jesus had prefigured through several signs, above all the multiplication of the loaves narrated in the Gospel of today’s liturgy."

The pontiff reflected on the manner of the miracle when Jesus fed so many who lacked food.

“The miracle of the loaves and fishes does not happen in a spectacular way, but almost secretly, like the wedding at Cana — the bread increases as it passes from hand to hand. And as the crowd eats, they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything,” said Pope Francis. 

“This is the Lord present in the Eucharist. He calls us to be citizens of Heaven, but at the same time he takes into account the journey we have to face here on earth,” he said. “If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.”

Thousands gather in St. Peter's Square in Rome on June 19, 2022, to hear Pope Francis' Angelus reflections. Vatican Media
Thousands gather in St. Peter's Square in Rome on June 19, 2022, to hear Pope Francis' Angelus reflections. Vatican Media

The pope connected the tangible needs of food with the intangible needs of humankind.

“Sometimes there is the risk of confining the Eucharist to a vague, distant dimension, perhaps bright and perfumed with incense, but rather distant from the straits of everyday life. In reality, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, beginning with the most basic,” he said. 

“In the Eucharist, everyone can experience this loving and concrete attention of the Lord. Those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ with faith not only eat, but are satisfied. To eat and to be satisfied: These are two basic necessities that are satisfied in the Eucharist,” he added. “The crowd is satisfied because of the abundance of food and also because of the joy and amazement of having received it from Jesus!"

Jesus Christ’s self-giving presence is key to understanding the Eucharist, the pope said.

“We certainly need to nourish ourselves, but we also need to be satisfied, to know that the nourishment is given to us out of love. In the Body and Blood of Christ, we find his presence, his life given for each of us. He not only gives us help to go forward, but he gives us himself — he makes himself our traveling companion, he enters into our affairs, he visits us when we are lonely, giving us back a sense of enthusiasm.”

“This satisfies us, when the Lord gives meaning to our life, our obscurities, our doubts; he sees the meaning, and this meaning that the Lord gives satisfies us,” the pope explained. Everyone is looking for the presence of the Lord, because “in the warmth of his presence, our lives change,” the pope added.

“Without him, everything would truly be gray,” he said. “Adoring the Body and Blood of Christ, let us ask him with our heart: ‘Lord, give me that daily bread to go forward, Lord, satisfy me with your presence!’”  

The pope also prayed that the Virgin Mary may teach us “how to adore Jesus, living in the Eucharist and to share him with our brothers and sisters.”

Statements on Spanish martyrs, Ukraine war

After the Angelus, the pope discussed the Saturday beatification of Dominican religious who were killed in the Spanish Civil War.

“They were all killed in hatred of the faith in the religious persecution that took place in Spain in the context of the civil war of the last century,” the pope said, calling for applause for them. “Their witness of adherence to Christ and forgiveness for their killers show us the way to holiness and encourage us to make their lives an offering of love to God and their brothers and sisters.”

The conflict of Ukraine after the Russian invasion also was a point for prayer, the pope said: “Let us not forget the suffering of the Ukrainian people in this moment, a people who are suffering.”

“I would like you all to keep in mind a question: What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Do I pray? Am I doing something? Am I trying to understand? What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Each one of you, answer in your own heart,” he asked.

Prayers for Myanmar, World Meeting of Families

Pope Francis also lamented the violence in Myanmar, which has forced many to flee their homes and blocked them from meeting basic needs.

“I join the appeal of the bishops of that beloved land, that the international community does not forget the Burmese people, that human dignity and the right to life be respected, as well as places of worship, hospitals, and schools. And I bless the Burmese community in Italy, represented here today,” he said.

In early 2021 the Myanmar military seized power in the country. Its crackdown on opponents provoked a violent backlash. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said the conflict has displaced more than 800,000 people from their homes. Of these, 250,000 are children. 

Military forces continue to target churches and Christian institutions. On June 15 government soldiers ransacked and set fire to St. Matthew Catholic Church in Dawnyaykhu in Phruso Township in Karenni State.

Pope Francis also noted that the 10th World Meeting of Families will begin June 22 in Rome and throughout the world. Around 2,000 Catholic families will gather in Rome this week to meet Pope Francis and hear talks on marriage and the faith.

“I thank the bishops, parish priests, and family pastoral workers who have called families to moments of reflection, celebration and festivity,” he said. “Above all, I thank the married couples and families who will bear witness to family love as a vocation and way to holiness. Have a good meeting!”

St. Columba’s 1,500-year-old legacy includes this new Scottish Catholic pilgrimage

Pilgrims traveled on foot and by ferry from the Scottish west coast, across the Isle of Mull, and to Iona Abbey during the Brecbannoch Pilgrimage June 11–13. / Sancta Familia Media

Denver Newsroom, Jun 19, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Catholic pilgrims have again returned to Iona, the coastal island where St. Columba launched the evangelization of Scotland more than 1,400 years ago. 

Sixty people walked for dozens of miles from June 11 to 13 to pray for Scotland, for spiritual renewal amid the pandemic, and to return a relic of the missionary Irish saint to the site of his deeply influential monastic community.

“The route taken involved blistering winds and rain, and some scorching sun,” pilgrimage director Jamie McGowan told CNA June 15. “We also had to wade through a few bogs. But the beauty of that was knowing that such conditions were the conditions that St. Columba himself would have faced when preaching the Gospel to the surrounding islands.”

The Brecbannoch Pilgrimage took place as the pilgrims traveled on foot and by ferry from the Scottish west coast, across the Isle of Mull, and to Iona Abbey. The walking portion of the journey was 50 miles long.

The pilgrimage takes its name from the Brecbannoch of St. Columba, a reliquary that had major significance in Scottish history. The object containing the relics of the saint was brought to important meetings of the Church and of the government to seek Columba’s intercession. The Scottish army would carry the Brecbannoch into battle.

“Now we carry it to pray for a renewal of the Catholic faith in Scotland,” McGowan said of the pilgrims’ reliquary replica.

The pilgrims’ replica is modeled on a national treasure of Scotland: the Monymusk Reliquary, a house-shaped container for saints’ relics. The National Museums Scotland said that many identify the Monymusk Reliquary as the Brecbannoch, though this has not been confirmed.

The pilgrimage reliquary contains the relics of St. Columba, St. Andrew, and St. Margaret of Scotland, the country’s patron saints.

Pilgrims waved the flag of Scotland and other religious banners and took turns carrying the reliquary on the journey to Iona. Their relic of St. Andrew is a piece of the cross on which St. Andrew the Apostle was crucified, and this cross is represented in the Scotland flag’s white saltire (diagonal cross).

Their destination was on the island of Iona, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland’s northwest coast. The island is only 3 miles by 1.5 miles wide, but it was there in the sixth century that Irish missionary St. Columba and his companions built simple monastic quarters and a church for themselves. They ministered to Irish settlers and evangelized the pagan Picts of the region.

“Iona has played a crucial part in Scottish history, where kings were crowned, married, and buried, and where pilgrims brought their petitions for centuries,” McGowan said. “Today, it maintains this status as a key historical monument in Scottish history. But for us as a Christian people it is, of course, more than a political monument: it is a shrine, not only of the many holy saints buried there, but also of the faith of many generations of Scots who journeyed great lengths to pray there.”

The latest pilgrimage to Iona began June 11 at St. Columba’s Cathedral in the west coast town of Oban, where Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles celebrated a 6 a.m. Mass for the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims held a procession to the port and then took a ferry to the Island of Mull, the large island to the east of Iona. They camped the night in a field, then walked to Kilvickeon Chapel, a ruined medieval church. After further traveling and camping the night, they took the ferry to Iona.

The group celebrated Mass at the ruins of Iona Nunnery, a Benedictine convent founded in the 13th century. They then held a procession to Iona Abbey, rebuilt in the 20th century at the site of St. Columba’s community.

The pilgrimage concluded with Solemn Benediction with the relics in the abbey’s chapel.

The St. Columba relic came from the relic collection at Carfin Grotto in Motherwell, Scotland.

“St. Columba’s relics were removed from Iona during the Reformation, so their return on Monday is the first time that St. Columba’s bones have returned to Iona since the Reformation,” McGowan said.

A storied life

St. Columba, also known as St. Colmcille, was born in Ireland on Dec. 7, 521. He studied at several monasteries and became a priest. He spent 15 years in Ulster traveling, preaching and founding monasteries. He left Ireland in 563. One account of his life says he left simply in order to preach the Word of God. Another account says he had become complicit in a war between feuding tribes and then repented of his sins, taking on foreign missionary work as a penance.

He died June 9, 597, on what is now observed as his feast day.

The monastic community he founded at Iona became deeply influential as a center of learning and devotion. It produced artistic manuscripts, possibly including the Book of Kells, and carvings including many Celtic high crosses. Iona went into decline after Viking raids in the ninth century. Monastic communities would wax and wane on the island until the Protestant Reformation.

In the mid-20th century, an ecumenical Christian group sought to restore Iona as a place for Christians to pray and gather. A Catholic house of prayer opened on the island in 1997, the first permanent Catholic presence there in 400 years.

Organizers announced the Brecbannoch Pilgrimage on Dec. 7, 2021, the 1,500th birthday of St. Columba.

Pilgrims traveled on foot and by ferry from the Scottish west coast, across the Isle of Mull, and to Iona Abbey during the Brecbannoch Pilgrimage June 11–13. The group celebrated Mass at the ruins of Iona Nunnery, a Benedictine convent founded in the 13th century. They then held a procession to Iona Abbey, rebuilt in the 20th century at the site of St. Columba’s community. Sancta Familia Media
Pilgrims traveled on foot and by ferry from the Scottish west coast, across the Isle of Mull, and to Iona Abbey during the Brecbannoch Pilgrimage June 11–13. The group celebrated Mass at the ruins of Iona Nunnery, a Benedictine convent founded in the 13th century. They then held a procession to Iona Abbey, rebuilt in the 20th century at the site of St. Columba’s community. Sancta Familia Media

“St. Columba came to a pagan Scotland with 12 men and brought the light of the Christian faith to every corner of it,” McGowan told CNA. “In a world that is increasingly anchored to materialism and utilitarianism, his saintly example speaks to a neo-paganism that we face today in our evangelical mission — and by his intercession we can be sure that we can overcome the challenges that face any modern apostle.”

McGowan said the need for the Church to come together after the major waves of the Covid-19 pandemic was a motive for the pilgrimage. He and friends at the Knights of St. Columba Council at the University of Glasgow thought that “after the pandemic the Church in Scotland needed to pray for its mission of renewal, and the best way to do that was to make prayer and penance with the saints who brought the faith to our nation in the first place.”

“Father Ross Campbell, the lead chaplain, was very supportive of the idea and agreed to help us lead a group to carry the relics with this intention in mind,” McGowan added, referring to the Catholic chaplain at the university.

Joss Brace, warden of the Cnoc a’ Chalmain Roman Catholic House of Prayer on Iona, told CNA the house’s oratory hosted the relics overnight after the pilgrimage concluded.

“We felt very privileged to have them there and to be able to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Columba’s relics,” said Brace, adding that the relics will now return to Carfin Grotto.

The pilgrimage was sponsored by the Knights of St. Columba, a Catholic men’s fraternity that collaborates with the Catholic bishops and clergy to support the Catholic faith and the works of mercy. It is active in Scotland, England, and Wales.

“Without their generosity, this event would not have been possible,” said McGowan, who said the organization is modeled after the Knights of Columbus.

Matthew Sheppard, a young member of the pilgrimage team and a grand knight of a Knights of St. Columba council, crafted the replica reliquary. Sancta Familia Media, a video production company in Lanarkshire, Scotland, took photos and videos throughout the pilgrimage.

The 1,500th anniversary of St. Columba’s birth last year prompted observances and celebrations in Scotland and Ireland from government bodies as well as from Catholics and other Christians, though some events were scaled back due to the pandemic.

To mark the anniversary, the Catholic Truth Society published a novena to St. Columba. The novena, authored by Jesuit Father Ross Crichton, was trilingual in Irish, Gaelic, and English.

The Church ‘can neither live nor survive without priests,’ Spanish bishop says

Priestly ordination with Bishop Demetrio Fernández of Córdoba, Spain / Diocese of Córdoba, Spain

Denver Newsroom, Jun 18, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

In his weekly pastoral letter published a few days before ordaining five new priests on June 18, the bishop of Córdoba, Spain, Demetrio Fernández, wrote that the Catholic Church cannot live without her priests, stressing that they are “a vital necessity.”

“The Church can neither live nor survive without priests. It’s a vital necessity. Because she cannot live without the presence of Christ who continually vivifies her through the sacraments, and especially through the Eucharist,” the bishop said. 

"Without priests there is no Eucharist or sacramental forgiveness of sins, or accompaniment to so many people who seek that presence of Christ by their side,” the bishop stressed.

Noting that the path to the priesthood isn’t easy, Bishop Fernández said that those who seek to respond to God in this vocation must seek him in prayer.

“In the serenity of prayer, with the counsel of the formators, and with the help of brother seminarians, the horizon becomes clearer until moral certainty is reached: God is calling me to be his priest, Jesus Christ is calling me to be his totally, people need the priest to draw close to God. Here I am, send me, as the prophet said,” the Spanish prelate wrote.

The bishop pointed out that a priest is a blessing for families, parishes, and fellow seminarians and encouraged young men not to be afraid to say yes to the Lord.

“Young men, if the Lord is calling you on this path, don’t be afraid. These young men who are ordained today are made of the same stuff as you are. And if you have any uneasiness about this direction, put yourself in the hands of a priest who will help you discern,” he encouraged.

"I assure you that if you take this step, you’ll be happy, because there is no greater happiness than giving your life to the Lord and making others happy, giving them to the Lord," he said.

The bishop encouraged people to pray for priestly vocations to God since, furthermore, “there is no greater sadness for a diocese than not having seminarians, candidates for the priesthood” and “there is no greater joy for a diocese than to have seminarians, who are going to be ordained priests for the service of the holy People of God.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis: Follow St. Paul’s wisdom when using tech to spread the Gospel

Pope Francis met with members of the Society of Saint Paul on June 18, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 18, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has pointed to St. Paul as a model for Catholics who seek to use the latest technologies to communicate the Gospel.

In a message delivered to the Society of Saint Paul on June 18, the pope encouraged the Catholic religious congregation to continue “using the most effective and up-to-date means of communication to bring the Good News to people where and how they live.”

He told the priests, who work in a communications apostolate, not to forget St. Paul’s message in the Letter to Romans to not be conformed to this age, but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds.

“Paul does not say transform the world, but … ‘let yourselves be transformed,’ that is, make room for the only subject who can transform you: the Holy Spirit, the Grace of God,” he said.

“It is therefore first of all the mentality that must be changed, converted, and assimilated to that of Jesus, in order to help spread in society a way of thinking and living based on the Gospel. This is a great challenge for the Church …” Pope Francis added.

“Indeed, it is not enough to use the means of communication to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church; it is necessary to integrate the message itself into the new culture created by modern communication,” he said.

The Society of Saint Paul was founded in Italy in the early 20th century by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, who also founded the Daughters of St. Paul, also known as the Media Nuns.

“From St. Paul you learn anew the passion for the Gospel and the missionary spirit, which, being born from his ‘pastoral heart,’ pushed him to make himself everything to everyone,” Pope Francis wrote in the message delivered to the Pauline priests.

“And now, after the early days of euphoria for technological innovations, we are aware that it is not enough to live ‘online’ or ‘connected,’ we need to see to what extent our communication, enriched by the digital environment, actually creates bridges and contributes to the construction of the culture of encounter,” he said.

During the audience at the Vatican with the participants in the Society of Saint Paul’s 11th general chapter, the pope decided to hand out his pre-written message and to speak off the cuff, rather than reading the speech aloud.

Pope Francis warned in his impromptu comments that there is much “disinformation” in today’s media, “where one thing is said but many others are hidden.”

The pope said that “bad communication distorts reality.” He called on the media apostolate not only to communicate clearly, but to help “redeem communication from the state it is in today” – full of slander and scandals.

“We must make sure that this does not happen in our communication of the faith … that the message comes precisely from our vocation, from the Gospel, crisp, clear, and witnessed with our own lives,” he said.

Meet the 10 newest blesseds of the Catholic Church

The 10 Elizabethan sisters beatified on June 11, 2022, in Wrocław, Poland. / Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Wrocław, Poland, Jun 18, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church’s 10 newest blesseds were beatified last weekend in Poland.

The 10 members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth were murdered by soldiers of the Red Army in 1945.

They were beatified at a Mass celebrated by the Vatican Cardinal Marcello Semeraro on June 11 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Wrocław.

Pope Francis praised their “example of faith” at his Sunday Angelus on June 12.

“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,” he said.

Here are their stories:

(Note: The following biographies describe disturbing incidents.)

Blessed Sister Maria Paschalis (Maria Magdalena) Jahn. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Paschalis (Maria Magdalena) Jahn. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

The group of Elizabethan martyr-sisters is headed by the youngest of them, Blessed Sister Maria Paschalis (Maria Magdalena) Jahn. She was born on April 7, 1916, the eldest of four children. Three days after her birth, she was baptized in her parish church of St. John the Baptist in Nysa, Silesia.

On March 30, 1938, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth. After her first religious profession in 1939, she was sent to the Congregations’ house in Kluczbork and two years later to Głubczyce. From April 1942, she stayed in St. Elizabeth’s House in Nysa, where she worked as a cook and ministered to elderly and sick sisters.

With the advance of the Red Army in March 1945, she left the city with another nun at the request of her superior. They reached Velké Losiny and then Sobotina (in the present-day Czech Republic), where they found shelter in a school. They served in a local church and rectory, and helped to nurse the sick and elderly.

On May 11, 1945, Sister Maria Paschalis was confronted by a Soviet soldier who threatened to kill her if she did not submit to him. She resisted bravely, but seeing that she could not defend herself, she knelt, held the cross from her rosary in her hand, and said firmly: “I wear a sacred dress [habit] and I will never go with you.”

On hearing these words, her assailant threatened her again. She responded: “I belong to Christ, He is my Bridegroom, I don’t care if you shoot me.”

Then she knelt and prayed “My Jesus, give me strength,” and asked those around her for forgiveness. After a moment’s silence, a gunshot put an end to her earthly life.

She was buried in the local cemetery in Sobotina in the presence of the clergy, sisters of St. Elizabeth, and numerous faithful. Since the moment of her death, she has been held up as a model of chastity for young people.

Blessed Sister Maria Edelburgis (Juliana) Kubitzki. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Edelburgis (Juliana) Kubitzki. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Edelburgis (Juliana) Kubitzki was born on Feb. 9, 1905, in Dąbrówka Dolna near the southern Polish town of Namysłow. In July 1929, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, making her perpetual vows on June 29, 1936. She worked as an outpatient nurse in Wrocław-Nadodrze and Żary.

After the Red Army entered Żary, the sisters were forced out of their house and found shelter in the rectory, where they arranged a chapel in one room. On the night of Feb. 17-18, 1945, the Red Army soldiers seized the sisters and some girls, brutally abusing them. Sister Maria Edelburgis said: “Under no circumstances can I bear it, although it may also cost my life.”

On Feb. 20, the soldiers broke into the room where the sisters were hiding and demanded that the sister go with them. One soldier fired several times in the direction of Sister Maria Edelburgis, who died soon after. Her body remained in the same room for three days to prevent further violence.

She was buried opposite the main portal of the parish church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Żary.

Blessed Sister Maria Rosaria (Elfrieda) Schilling. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Rosaria (Elfrieda) Schilling. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Rosaria (Elfrieda) Schilling was born into a Protestant family in Wrocław on May 5, 1908. She attended a housekeeping school run by sisters of St. Elizabeth in Nysa.

After converting to Catholicism at the age of 20, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth. She made her perpetual profession on July 29, 1935, serving in the pastoral and administrative offices in Hamburg, Głogów, Nysa, Katowice, Legnica, Chojnów, and Nowogrodziec on the Kwisa, a river in southwestern Poland.

When Soviet troops captured Nowogrodziec on Feb. 18, 1945, she was staying at the Congregation’s local house. Together with other sisters, she hid in an air raid shelter for safety. Late in the evening on Feb. 22, three soldiers broke into the shelter and took Sister Maria Rosaria by force to the commandant’s office. She was raped and returned to the shelter exhausted and bleeding, in a ragged habit. She was on the verge of death, but her health improved enough for her to tell the sisters everything that had happened.

The next day, the military commissar ordered the nuns, except for Sister Maria Rosaria, to go to the commanding officer. Despite her weakness and to avoid further violence, she left with the others. A bullet fired by the enraged commissioner struck her on the road. She whispered “Jesus, Mary!” A second shot was fatal.

Her body was not found until six months later. She is buried in the parish cemetery in Nowogrodziec.

Blessed Sister Maria Sabina (Anna Jadwiga) Thienel. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Sabina (Anna Jadwiga) Thienel. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Sabina (Anna Jadwiga) Thienel was born on Sept. 24, 1909, in Rudziczka, near Prudnik in southern Poland. In 1933, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, and on July 31, 1940, she made her perpetual vows.

As a nurse, she served elderly and sick people in St. Nicholas’ House in Wrocław. In 1944, for safety reasons, Sister Maria Sabina and her charges were evacuated to Lubań, where the sisters conducted outpatient and caring activities.

On Feb. 28, 1945, the Red Army captured the city, and the soldiers took over the sisters’ house. The sisters and residents were not allowed to leave the building and were harassed, humiliated, and raped.

When one of the soldiers tried to drive the sister out of the room by force, she successfully resisted, clinging to the cross and calling on Mary for help: “Holy Mother of God, allow me to die a virgin, protect my purity!”

On March 1, 1945, when the sisters were praying and Sister Maria Sabina was repeating her request to Mary, a bullet pierced the door and struck her in the chest, killing her. She was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Lubań.

Blessed Sister Maria Melusja (Marta) Rybka. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Melusja (Marta) Rybka. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Melusja (Marta) Rybka was born on July 11, 1905, in Pawłow, near Racibórz. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in 1927 and made her perpetual vows on July 31, 1934. She spent her life as a nun at St. George’s House in Nysa, working in the garden and bakery, and doing household jobs. During the Second World War, she nursed the elderly and sick and looked after the girls from the housekeeping school.

On March 24, 1945, Sister Maria Melusja was attacked and shot by a Red Army soldier while defending a girl who was being assaulted. According to witnesses, the sister saved the house from being burnt down, as the fire set by the soldiers stopped in the front of the room where the sister’s body lay in a pool of blood.

The sister’s body is buried in a mass grave in the sisters’ garden at 16 Słowiańska Street in Nysa.

Blessed Sister Maria Sapientia (Łucja) Heymann. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Sapientia (Łucja) Heymann. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Sapientia (Łucja) Heymann was born on April 19, 1875, in Lubiesz, near Wałcz in northwestern Poland. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in 1894 and made her perpetual profession on July 2, 1906. She worked as a nurse in Hamburg and then in Nysa.

When the Red Army entered Nysa, the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty increased. On March 24, 1945, soldiers ordered the sisters from St. Elizabeth’s House to gather in the refectory. One of the soldiers went up to a young sister and wanted to take her away. Blessed Maria Sapientia implored him to give up, saying: “No, I beg you, no.” The soldier put his weapon up to her temple and fired.

Her mortal remains were buried in a common grave in the monastery garden at the House of St. Elizabeth in Nysa.

Blessed Sister Maria Acutina (Helena) Goldberg. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Acutina (Helena) Goldberg. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Acutina (Helena) Goldberg was born on July 6, 1882, in Dłużek, then in East Prussia. At the age of 23, she joined the Sisters of St. Elizabeth and made her perpetual vows on July 25, 1917.

For many years, she worked as a nurse at a hot springs sanatorium in Wleń and a house for retired priests in Nysa. From 1941, she worked in an orphanage in Lubiąż as a guardian of war orphans.

Aware of the brutality of the Red Army soldiers who entered the city on Jan. 26, 1945, Sister Maria Acutina was continually on watch for the safety of the girls entrusted to her. On May 2, 1945, she was shot while defending them.

Sister Maria Acutina’s body was buried in the parish cemetery in Krzydlina Mała, southwestern Poland.

Blessed Sister Maria Adela (Klara) Schramm. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Adela (Klara) Schramm. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Adela (Klara) Schramm was born on June 3, 1885, in Łączna near Kłodzko, southwestern Poland.

In 1912, she joined the Sisters of St. Elizabeth and made her perpetual vows on June 29, 1924. She worked in Ramułtowice, Szklarska Poręba, Wałbrzych-Sobięcin, and Godzieszów, where she was the superior of local communities.

As the Red Army was approaching, Sister Maria Adela decided to remain and take care of the elderly women in her charge. After the Red Army soldiers took the village, she and her charges found a shelter at the farm of Maria and Paul Baum.

On Feb. 25, 1945, a soldier broke into the house. Blessed Maria Adela, defending her charges and her chastity vowed to God, was shot, together with her hosts and other people staying there. All of them were buried in Godzieszów, southwestern Poland, on the farmer’s property in a bomb crater, where later a plaque was erected to commemorate their death.

Blessed Sister Maria Adelheidis (Jadwiga) Töpfer. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Adelheidis (Jadwiga) Töpfer. Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Another victim of the Soviet troops’ brutality was Blessed Sister Maria Adelheidis (Jadwiga) Töpfer, who was shot on March 24, 1945.

She was born in Nysa on Aug. 26, 1887. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in 1907 and made her perpetual profession on July 28, 1919.

She had great pedagogical skills, and for many years she was a teacher and headmistress of a housekeeping and handicraft school in Koźle, and from 1942 at St. George’s boarding school in Nysa.

In 1943, she was transferred to St. Notburga’s House in Nysa. During the Soviet occupation of the city, the sick and the elderly sought refuge with the sisters. Sister Maria Adelheidis remained with them. Despite extremely difficult living conditions, she always found a place for and offered help to those in need. She was the soul of the house.

As soldiers were roaming the building, a Red Army man entered the room where the sister and her charges were staying. Provocatively, he showed his bleeding hand and asked who had been shooting from the room. Although everyone truthfully denied it, he shot Sister Maria Adelheidis. Her body was laid to rest in the Jerusalem Cemetery in Nysa.

Blessed Sister Maria Felicitas (Anna Ellmerer). Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.
Blessed Sister Maria Felicitas (Anna Ellmerer). Courtesy of the Elizabethan sisters.

Blessed Sister Maria Felicitas (Anna Ellmerer) was shot in Nysa, on March 25, 1945.

She was born on May 12, 1888, in Grafing, near Munich. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, making her perpetual profession on July 5, 1923, working as a teacher and tutor in Dusseldorf, Kup, and Nysa.

The Soviet soldiers stationed in St. Elizabeth’s House constantly bothered the sisters, who experienced days of fear and terror. The superior of the house pleaded with them to leave the sisters alone. In response, she was struck with the butt of a rifle and lost consciousness. Sister Maria Felicitas rushed to her aid. A soldier took advantage of this and tried to lead her outside. As the sister defended herself and resisted, he fired a warning shot.

In response, Sister Maria Felicitas stood against the wall, stretched out her hands in the shape of a cross, and cried out loudly: “Long live Christ the K...!” The last word was interrupted by a fatal bullet. The killer trampled on his victim’s head and chest with his heavy boots.

The sister’s mortal remains are buried in the monastery garden at 16 Słowiańska Street in Nysa.

A prayer for the necessary graces through the intercession of Blessed M. Paschalis and Nine Companions:

Lord Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen,
You strengthened Blessed Maria Paschalis and her Companions
to sacrifice their lives.
By defending the dignity and chastity of a woman
as well as performing acts of mercy,
they kept faithful to you
to the shedding of blood.
May the example of their lives encourage us
to a generous service to our brethren
and to zealous fulfillment of Your commandments.

Through their intercession, grant us the favors
which we ask of You with trust,
you who live and reign forever and ever.
Amen.

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be to the Father...