The sisters took care of the elderly, the sick and children. Faithful to their vow of chastity and to their vocation, they were murdered by soldiers of the Red Army in 1945. The beatification of 10 Elizabethan sisters took place on 11th June in the cathedral in Wroclaw. The ceremony was presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, who compared this martyrdom to the current situation in Ukraine.
“The whole life of these sisters was a true gift of self in service to the sick, the little ones, the poor, the most needy. Their selfless love was heroic to the extent that they chose not to flee from the approaching Red Army in late 1944-45. And this despite the news of its brutality and the atrocities committed by its soldiers against the inhabitants of East Prussia”. – Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who presided at the beatification Mass in the cathedral in Wrocław, said in his homily.
Cardinal Semeraro stressed that the martyrdom of the 10 Elizabethan sisters brings to mind the violence, cruelty and hatred that now afflict Ukraine. In his homily, he noted that gestures of selfless love and concern for others build peace and are a response to the violence that occurs in the face of war.
In the face of ongoing war conflicts, the hierarch encouraged fervent prayer through the intercession of the new blessed. “We ask the Lord through their intercession that the world may never again lack respect for womanhood, equality in the dignity of man and woman and protection of motherhood. (…) Today we commend to them in a special way the Ukrainian people, migrants and our quest for peace,” – he said in his homily.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recalled Pope Francis’ words in which the Holy Father thanks the Poles for being the first to support Ukraine by “opening their borders, their hearts and the doors of their homes to Ukrainians fleeing war.”
Sister Maria Paschalis Jahn, was born on 7 April 1916 in Nysa. After taking her religious vows, she stayed in Kluczbork, Glubczyce, Nysa, and then in the Czech Republic. On 11 May 1945, Sister Paschalis was brutally attacked by a Soviet soldier, defending her chastity and faith, and shot by him. Like 9 other sisters, although they lived in different places and took up different jobs, she remained faithful to her vocation to the end, giving her life in defence of her charges.
The Elizabethan sisters stress that the beatification of the 10 nuns is a symbol of remembrance of the tragic death of all nuns who died at the hands of the Red Army in 1945. They estimate that only in their congregation over 100 sisters died in similar circumstances.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth was founded in Nysa in 1810. The main goal of the congregation is selfless service to those in need, especially the suffering and the sick. Currently the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth is active in 19 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Currently about 1000 sisters work in hospitals, kindergartens, schools and parishes. The sisters run community centres, nursing homes, orphanages, educational institutions and boarding schools.
In the Church, the liturgical commemoration of Sister Paschalis Jahn and her companions, martyrs of the Congregation of St. Elizabeth, will be celebrated annually on 11 May.