Photograph c. 1912.
2 August 1898|
Wał-Ruda, Małopolskie, Austria-Hungary
|Died||18 November 1914
Wał-Ruda, Małopolskie, Austria-Hungary
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||10 June 1987, Tarnów, Poland by Pope John Paul II|
Blessed Karolina Kózka (2 August 1898 – 18 November 1914) was a Polish Roman Catholic. Her childhood was spent on her farm where she was known for her strong faith and her willingness to catechize to neighbors and children alike; she recited rosaries and was an ardent devotee to the Mother of God which became more and more evident over time for she even recited rosaries when she should have been fast asleep. Kózka is often referred to as the "Polish Maria Goretti" due to the manner of her death.
Kózka's death caused great outrage against the Russians for it had been a Russian soldier who had killed the girl. Three thousand flocked to her funeral and called for her cause for sainthood to be introduced because she died to defend her virginal state. The cause commenced in the 1950s and culminated in 1987 when Pope John Paul II beatified her in Poland.
Karolina Kózka was born on 2 August 1898 in Małopolskie as the fourth of eleven children to the peasant farmers Jan Kózka and Maria Borzęcka; she was baptized on 7 August at the local parish church of Saint John the Baptist.
From 1904 until 1912 she attended the classes at the local school and had extended schooling from 1912 to 1913. There were frequent times when she would gather her neighbors and relatives and invited them read the Bible together under a pear tree near her home. Kózka loved reciting rosaries and used the beads that her mother gave to her; frequent recitation caused her to get less sleep and she often whispered "Ave Maria" which enlightened her. Kózka recited these en route to Mass even though it was a long walk and she also had a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her uncle Franciszek Borzęcka was an inspiration to her and she helped him in his role as a librarian while also helping out at her parish while instructing her little siblings and the local children in catechism. During Lent she would sing about the Passion of the Lord and at Christmas would have her parents and siblings join her in singing songs and carols. This led some of the villagers to call her home "the little church".
Kózka received her Confirmation on 18 May 1914 before making her first confession on 13 November 1918 and then her First Communion on 15 November. In 1914 came great conflict as World War I broke out in Europe; the Russian forces began capturing cities in Poland and in mid-November 1914 controlled Wał-Ruda. The situation grew worse as stories spread of the soldiers stealing possessions and raping women which caused a great air of fear to spread. The start of the occupation saw a Russian soldier come to their home but he left after he was offered a meal.
On 18 November 1914 at around 9:00pm an armed Russian soldier came to their house asking questions about the Austrian forces before ordering Kózka and her father to go with him for he told them that he was taking them to the commanding officer. The pair and the soldier reached the edge of the forest where the soldier commanded her father to return home. The man went back to his home - he was reluctant - leaving his daughter in the clutches of the Russian. Two men (Franziskus Zalesny and Franziskus Broda) witnessed the soldier's attack on Kózka and watched from behind the bushes; he attempted to force himself upon her but she struggled and refused to give in to his advances. The angered soldier then stabbed her with his knife multiple times. But she managed to run over 800 meters towards the swamps which saved her from further attacks since the chase was difficult for the soldier. The man saw her fall and gave up the chase believing her to be dead or on the verge of death. But it was too late for her for the wounds inflicted had caused too much blood loss which caused her death in the swamps between 9:30 and 9:40pm; one stabbing hit her carotid causing excessive bleeding.
It was not until 4 December 1914 that her remains were found and she was buried on 6 December with around 3000 people attending her funeral. Her remains were later relocated on 18 November 1917 to an altar at a parish church in Zabawa at the behest of the Bishop of Tarnów. The site where she died is marked with a cross. On 18 June 1916 a monument was established in her honor close to the Zabawa church.
The beatification process opened in the Tarnów diocese in an informative process on 11 February 1965 and this process later closed in 1967 before all documents were sent to Rome for further assessment; her writings received theological approval on 10 September 1977 before the formal introduction to the cause was given on 4 March 1981 when she was titled as a Servant of God. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints validated this informative process on 20 September 1982 before receiving the Positio dossier in 1983. Theologians approved this on 22 January 1985 as did the C.C.S. on 7 May 1985.
On 30 June 1986 her beatification received papal approval after Pope John Paul II confirmed that Kózka was killed "in defensum castitatis" - or to defend her virginal state - and beatified her in Tarnów while visiting Poland on 10 June 1987.