Sára Salkaházi

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Sára Salkaházi
Sara Salkahazi.jpg
Sára Salkaházi
Born May 11, 1899
Kassa, Austria-Hungary (now Košice, Slovakia)
Died December 27, 1944(1944-12-27) (aged 45)
Budapest, Hungary
Honored in
Catholic Church
Beatified September 17, 2006, Budapest by Cardinal Archbishop Péter Erdő

Blessed Sára Salkaházi, S.S.S. (Kassa, May 11, 1899 - Budapest, December 27, 1944), born as Sára Schalkház, was a Hungarian Roman Catholic religious sister who saved the lives of approximately one hundred Jews during World War II. Denounced and summarily executed by the Pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party, Salkaházi was beatified in 2006.

Early life[edit]

Salkaházi was born in Kassa on May 11, 1899, in a bourgeois family of German origin. As a young woman, she worked at various jobs including those of a bookbinder, a reporter and newspaper editor. At this time, she was far from devout, and at times, even flirted with atheism. Before becoming a religious sister, she was once engaged to be married, but she soon broke off the engagement.

Religious life[edit]

She took her religious vows with the Sisters of Social Service in 1930. Her dream was to be sent to the missions in Brazil, but this was not fulfilled, in the early years, because she was reputed to have a "difficult" character, and later, because of the outbreak of World War II.

During the final months of World War II, she helped shelter hundreds of Jews in a building belonging to the Sisters of Social Service in Hungary's capital, Budapest.[1] As the sister responsible for the house, she secretly made a formal pledge to God in presence of her superior to be prepared to sacrifice herself if only the other sisters were not harmed during the war. The fact and text of the pledge have been preserved in her journals.

Martyrdom[edit]

Betrayed to the authorities by a woman working in the house, the Jews she had sheltered were taken prisoner by members of the Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party. Salkaházi was not in the house when the arrests took place and could have fled, yet she chose to return. The prisoners were taken to the bank of the Danube River on December 27, 1944 and shot,[2] together with four Jewish women and a Christian co-worker who was not a member of her religious institute. Her body was never recovered. The killings came to light in 1967, during the trial of some Arrow Cross members.

In 1969,[3] her deeds on behalf of Hungarian Jews were recognized by Yad Vashem[2] after she was nominated by the daughter of one of the Jewish women she was hiding, who was killed alongside her.

Beatification[edit]

Beatification of Blessed Sára Salkaházi in Budapest, 2006.

On September 17, 2006, Sister Sára was beatified in a proclamation by Pope Benedict XVI, read by Cardinal Péter Erdő during a Mass outside St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest,[2] which said in part, "She was willing to assume risks for the persecuted ... in days of great fear. Her martyrdom is still topical ... and presents the foundations of our humanity." This is the first beatification to take place in Hungary since that of King Stephen in 1083 along with his son Imre and the Italian Bishop Gerard Sagredo, who were instrumental in converting Hungary to Christianity.[2] If Salkaházi is canonized, she will be the first non-royal Hungarian female saint.[2][4]

Speaking at the Mass, Rabbi József Schweitzer said of Sister Sára, "I know from personal experience ... how dangerous and heroic it was in those times to help Jews and save them from death. Originating in her faith, she kept the commandment of love until death."

References[edit]

  1. ^ McDonough, Chris International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation Sara Salkahazi [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e "Catholic Church to beatify Hungarian nun who saved Jews in World War II". Associated Press story in the Jerusalem Post. September 16, 2006. 
  3. ^ "The Righteous Among The Nations - Salkaházi Sára (1899-1944)". Yad Vashem The Righteous Among The Nations Database. October 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ Non royal Hungarian saints include Saint Maurus of Pécs, István Pongrácz and a few other names, all male.

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