Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek

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Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek
Eleven Nuns of Nowogrodek.jpg
The Eleven Nuns of Nowogródek by Adam Styka
Born 1888–1916
Died 1 August 1943, Nowogródek, occupied Poland
Martyred by The Nazi Gestapo (The Holocaust)
Means of martyrdom Execution by firing squad
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 5 March 2000, Pope John Paul II
Feast 1 August

The Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek, also known as the Eleven Nuns of Nowogródek or Sister Stella and Companions were a group of Roman Catholic nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth killed by the Gestapo in August 1943 in present-day Belarus.

Circumstances[edit]

Background[edit]

The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth arrived in Nowogródek in 1929 at the behest of Bishop Zygmunt Łoziński.[1] The Sisters became an integral part of the life of the town. During the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland, the Sisters invested great effort in preparing for the religious services – for the residents of the town, liturgical prayer became a beacon of hope amid the hopelessness of the occupation.[1]

The Nazi terror in Nowogródek began with the 1942 extermination of the Jews. Of the 20,000 inhabitants of the town before the war, approximately half were Jews. The Germans murdered about 9,500 of the Jews in a series of "actions" and sent the remaining 550 Jews to slave labor camps. This was followed by a surge in Polish arrests, then the slaughter of 60 people, including two priests. This situation was repeated on 18 July 1943, when more than 120 people were arrested and slated for execution.[1]

The Sisters unanimously expressed their desire to offer their lives in sacrifice for the imprisoned.[1] Sister Maria Stella shared the Sisters' decision with their chaplain Father Zienkiewicz and rector, saying, "My God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us and spare those who have families. We are even praying for this intention."[1] Almost immediately, the plans for the prisoners were changed – they were deported to work camps in Germany, and some of them were even released.[1] When the life of Father Zienkiewicz was threatened, the Sisters renewed their offer, saying, "There is a greater need for a priest on this earth than for us. We pray that God will take us in his place, if sacrifice of life is needed."[1]

Martyrdom[edit]

Without warning or provocation, on 31 July 1943, eleven of the sisters were imprisoned, loaded into a van, and driven beyond the town limits.[2] The eleven nuns were killed on 1 August 1943 in the woods 5 km (3.1 mi) beyond Nowogródek; they were buried in a common grave.[1] After the execution, Sister M. Malgorzata Banas, the community's sole surviving member, located the place of the martyrdom and remained the guardian of their common grave until her own death in 1966.[1] The Church of the Transfiguration, known as Biała Fara (or "White Church"), now contains the relics of the eleven martyrs.[1]

Martyrs[edit]

The eleven martyrs are listed below, along with their birth names, dates of birth, and ages at the time of their deaths.[1][2][3]

Religious Name Birth Name Birth Date Age at Death
Sister M. Stella, Superior marAdela Mardosewicz 14 Dec 1888 54 years old
Sister M. Rajmunda kokAnna Kokołowicz 24 Aug 1892 50 years old
Sister M. Imelda zakJadwiga Karolina Żak 29 Dec 1892 50 years old
Sister M. Daniela jozEleonora Aniela Jóźwik 25 Jan 1895 48 years old
Sister M. Kanuta chrJózefa Chrobot 22 May 1896 47 years old
Sister M. Gwidona cieHelena Cierpka 11 Apr 1900 43 years old
Sister M. Sergia rapJulia Rapiej 18 Aug 1900 42 years old
Sister M. Kanizja macEugenia Mackiewicz 27 Nov 1903 39 years old
Sister M. Felicyta borPaulina Borowik 30 Aug 1905 37 years old
Sister M. Heliodora matLeokadia Matuszewska 8 Feb 1906 37 years old
Sister M. Boromea narWeronika Narmontowicz 18 Dec 1916 26 years old

Beatification[edit]

On 18 September 1991, the canonization process for the eleven nuns was officially opened and, on 28 June 1999, the Zenit News Agency announced that Pope John Paul II had confirmed that they were martyrs. Pope John Paul II beatified them with a group of thirty-three others on Sunday, 5 March 2000.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Sister Stella and Companions". Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c Lapomarda, Fr. Vincent A., SJ (22 February 2000). "The Eleven Nuns of Nowogrodek". College of the Holy Cross. Retrieved 27 February 2008. 
  3. ^ Górska, Sr. Maria Teresa, CSFN (2000). "Męczennice z Nowogródka" (in Polish). Fundacja Opoka. Retrieved 13 April 2010.