Blessed Martyrs of Nowogródek
|Blessed Martyrs of Navahrudak|
The Eleven Nuns of Navahrudak by Adam Styka
|Died||1 August 1943, Navahrudak, occupied Belarus|
|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|
The Blessed Martyrs of Navahrudak, also known as the Eleven Nuns of Navahrudak 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.
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth arrived in Navahrudak in 1929 at the behest of Bishop Zygmunt Łoziński. 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.
The Nazi terror in Navahrudak 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.
The Sisters unanimously expressed their desire to offer their lives in sacrifice for the imprisoned. 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." Almost immediately, the plans for the prisoners were changed – they were deported to work camps in Germany, and some of them were even released. 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."
Without warning or provocation, on 31 July 1943, eleven of the sisters were imprisoned, loaded into a van, and driven beyond the town limits. 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. 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. The Church of the Transfiguration, known as Biała Fara (or "White Church"), now contains the relics of the eleven martyrs.
|Religious Name||Birth Name||Birth Date||Age at Death|
|Sister M. Stella, Superior||Adela Mardosewicz||14 Dec 1888||54 years old|
|Sister M. Rajmunda||Anna Kokołowicz||24 Aug 1892||50 years old|
|Sister M. Imelda||Jadwiga Karolina Żak||29 Dec 1892||50 years old|
|Sister M. Daniela||Eleonora Aniela Jóźwik||25 Jan 1895||48 years old|
|Sister M. Kanuta||Józefa Chrobot||22 May 1896||47 years old|
|Sister M. Gwidona||Helena Cierpka||11 Apr 1900||43 years old|
|Sister M. Sergia||Julia Rapiej||18 Aug 1900||42 years old|
|Sister M. Kanizja||Eugenia Mackiewicz||27 Nov 1903||39 years old|
|Sister M. Felicyta||Paulina Borowik||30 Aug 1905||37 years old|
|Sister M. Heliodora||Leokadia Matuszewska||8 Feb 1906||37 years old|
|Sister M. Boromea||Weronika Narmontowicz||18 Dec 1916||26 years old|
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.
- "Sister Stella and Companions". Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. 20 April 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2008.
- Lapomarda, Fr. Vincent A., SJ (22 February 2000). "The Eleven Nuns of Nowogrodek". College of the Holy Cross. Retrieved 27 February 2008.
- Górska, Sr. Maria Teresa, CSFN (2000). "Męczennice z Nowogródka" (in Polish). Fundacja Opoka. Retrieved 13 April 2010.