Saturday, July 15, 2006

She loved the ones who mistreated her (Betty Olsen)

Betty Ann Olsen, the daughter of a missionary-couple in Africa, arrived in war-torn Vietnam in 1964 as a missionary nurse at the age of thirty. She entered the country carrying with her only her medical kit. She worked in a leprosarium ran by Chirstian and Mission Alliance Missionaries in Banmethuot, South Vietnam. Despite their humanitarian works, the mission was always harassed by the Viet Cong. Some missionaries have already been kidnapped, but the missionary work never ceased.

During the Tet (Vietnamese New Year) in January, 1968, the mission compounds were attacked and bombarded by the Viet Cong. Six missionaries died in the three-day attack. During the attacks, Betty Olsen tried to start her car in order to bring a wounded missionary to the hospital. But she was cornered by the Viet Cong and taken as a captive with a fellow missionary, Henry Blood. They were last seen being marched into the forest.

They were hostaged together with Mike Benge, an American journalist, in Darlac POW Camp. They were placed in cages and were fed only with boiled tapioca. The Vietnamese kept moving their prisoners, hiking through the jungles and mountains. Benge once saw an American plane flying above the camp. The pilot only waved at them and left them alone.

For months Olsen, Blood and Benge were chained together and moved north from one encampment to another, moving over 200 miles through the mountainous jungles. The trip was grueling and took its toll on the prisoners. They were physically depleted, sick from dysentery and malnutrition; beset by fungus, infection, leeches and ulcerated sores. Blood died because of the following sicknesses. Benge could also have died, if not only Betty took care of him.

The Viet Cong and their captives kept moving. Just before crossing the border into Cambodia, Olsen weakened to the point that she could no longer move. The Vietnamese began to kick and drag her to keep her moving. Benge, trying to defend her, was beaten with rifle butts. They were not allowed any food, except for bamboo shoots. Betty died on September 28, 1967 and was buried by Benge.

When Benge was released, he met with Olsen’s family in America. He told them, “She suffered terribly. She died from starvation and dysentery two days before her thirty-fifth birthday. She never showed any bitterness or resentment. To the end, she loved the ones who mistreated her.”

Richie Fernando, SJ

Richie Fernando was a young Filipino Jesuit missionary in Cambodia. He was sent to Cambodia before his priesthood. There, he worked as a teacher in a technical school for the handicapped. In the school, people who were disabled, most especially landmine victims, learned skills which help them earn a living. Richie loved his students in Cambodia and allowed them to share with him their stories.

Among Richie’s students was Sarom, a sixteen-year-old boy who was a victim of a landmine. He wanted to finish his studies there but he was asked to leave by the school authorities for his disruptive attitude. According to Richie, Sarom was tricky but he still had a place for him in his heart.

On October 17, 1996, Sarom came to the school for a meeting. Angered, he suddenly he reached into a bag he was carrying, pulled out a grenade, and began to move towards a classroom full of students; the windows of the room were barred, leaving the students no escape. Richie Fernando came up behind Sarom and grabbed him. Sarom tried to let Richie go, but the missionary held on to Sarom. Sarom accidentally dropped the grenade behind Richie, and in a flash, Richie was dead. The missionary had protected Sarom and the other students from the violence that was about to come.

Four days before he died, Richie wrote to a friend in the Philippines, “I know where my heart is, It is with Jesus Christ, who gave his all for the poor, the sick, the orphan ...I am confident that God never forgets his people: our disabled brothers and sisters. And I am glad that God has been using me to make sure that our brothers and sisters know this fact. I am convinced that this is my vocation.”
Shocked by what he had caused, Sarom sat in his jail cell and mourned too. In March 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Fernando wrote to Cambodia's King Sihanouk, asking for pardon for Sarom; somehow, someone had to stop the violence. Sarom had not wanted to kill Richie. “Richie ate rice with me,” he said. “He was my friend.”

Mother Agnes' glass of water

Shi Xianzhi was the daughter of a rich pagan in Anhui. As a young girl, she had a difficult character but her friends in a Catholic school in which she enrolled changed her. She converted to the Catholic religion, even though she was faced with opposition from her family. She even refused to be married to the man which her parents chose for her according to the Chinese tradition of arranged marriage. She left her home secretly on the day of her wedding. Because of this, her father disowned her.

After leaving her home, she lived with the Ursuline nuns who baptized her and received her into their religious congregation. In her baptism, she took the name Maria Agnes. She was sent to Italy for her studies as a religious and returned to China to become a school principal. When the foreign missionaries were deported by the Communist government, she was made the superior of the religious congregation throughout China.

During the persecution, she moved to Shanghai and lived in secrecy in the house of a Christian. She continued training her two novices for religious life, placed them in different houses and dressed them in civilian clothes to avoid arrest. She visited the other Ursuline nuns in Xuzhou, Bengbu and Nanking, and in each of her visit, she brought them the Blessed Sacrament. However, the nuns are not just Mother Agnes’ problems. The money sent to her by the Ursulines abroad did not reach her in time, and the families of the other nuns lived in poverty and asked for material aid. Mother Agnes faced all these problems with strength coming from God.

Mother Agnes wrote to the nuns in Italy, “I pray to our beloved Mother and our Lord to give us the grace of martyrdom. We are all prepared.” In Nanking, Monsignor Peter Chang, who protected the nuns in Nanking, was arrested. Five more Ursuline nuns were arrested. Mother Agnes’ neighbors also began to look at her with suspicion.

Mother Agnes was arrested in her house during the celebration of the Chinese New Year. During interrogations, Mother Agnes remained silent or simply replied, “I don’t know.” The Communists called her “the tight mouth.” In 1959, she was sentenced to work as a farmer in Anhui. However, because of her heart problems, she was made to stay in the house for the domestic jobs. One prisoner said about Mother Agnes, “Each time we had finished our work and returned, we would always see her at the entrance of the dining hall picking vegetables or sweeping the floor. She would frequently prepare for us a container of hot boiled water and hide it under a coverlet, saying, “I only work at home and my work is far lighter than yours. Whenever the dining hall has hot water, I go and ask for a container or otherwise the minute you come home, other people may well push forward and you would lose an opportunity to get any.” A glass of boiled water, especially if it was hot, was regarded at that time as very precious. As for us Catholics, we would each beg the other to take it, each of us being glad to let another person enjoy a drink. Our mutual generosity could be seen even in the disposal of a drop of water. Mo. Shi’s glass of hot boiled water did indeed warm the hearts of everyone.”

In the early months of 1960, Mother Agnes’ health aggravated. In the end of October, she was sent to work in the farm. According to the other prisoners, Mother Agnes always talked about death. Once, Mother Agnes told a prisoner, “I am content to die here. For a Christian who lives in Christ, to die is to gain.” She also said to one prisoner, “I am a nun of the Ursuline Order. Should an opportunity arise for you to write a letter one day to the mother general of our order in Rome, please tell all of them that my soul sings praises to the Lord and that right up until the moment of my death I have kept all the rules of our religious congregation.”

In December, 1960, Mother Agnes suffered a fatal heart attack and was brought to the prison hospital, where she died alone. A non-Catholic prisoner said of her, “Look at her, she is still young but she died rather than renounce her faith.” While Mother Agnes was still alive, one prisoner wrote under her inspiration, “I live on the verge of death. To live one more day is to approach the grave nearer by one day. During the course of my life, I walk step by step, coming closer to death, with only the breath of life to divide life from death. What of life! What of death! To live is to live for Christ so that death comes as a blessing. This meeting with God is the highest ideal of our human existence.”

Pastor Son's Sons

The Communists who infiltrated in South Korea sparked local rebellions, which led to the martyrdom of Christians. Among those Christians were Tong-in and Tong-sin, the sons of Pastor Son, the minister of a Presbyterian Church.

Tong-in and Tong-sin have been persecuted by the Japanese for refusing to worship at a Shinto shrine. In October, 1948, the Communists seized the school. One communist pointed a pistol at Tong-in and forced him to renounce his faith. Tong-in preached to the Communist and asked him to accept Christ.

Suddenly, Tong-sin, the younger brother, came into the scene and shouted, “Shoot me and let my brother live!” “No,” objected Tong-in. “I am the elder. If you must kill someone, shoot me.” The Communists killed them both. When Pastor Son viewed the bodies of his sons, he only said, “Their shining faces are as lovely as flowers.”

After the uprising, the murderers of the two brothers were brought to trial. Pastor Son hurried to the military authorities and said, “Nothing wil bring back my boys now, so what is to be gained by killing this one? I am willing to take him and try to make a Christian of him so he could do for God what Tong-in and Tong-sin left undone.”

The military officers were stunned, but they finally agreed to the pastor’s wish. Pastor Son took the two murderers home. The parents of the Communists were overcome with gratitude that they begged to feed and dress Pastor Son’s daughter. The daughter was hesitant to go, but Pastor Son told her, “It is the best Christian witness that you can make.” And she agreed.

Manche Masemola

Manche Masemola, a South African girl, was believed to be born in 1913. She was a member of the Pedi tribe. In the early twentieth century, the first Christians from the tribe formed a community. They were very much suspected by other pagan members of the tribe.
Manche grew up with her family. She did not go to school, but helped in her home as other girls from the tribe did. In 1919, an Anglican missionary began preaching among the Pedis. Manche and her cousin, Lucia, listened to the preacher with interest.

This was a source of stress within the family; however, for her parents feared she would leave them and not marry the person they would select as her husband. Such arranged marriages were a source of wealth to the families who contracted them. Her parents beat her, and the constantly abused child told her sister and cousin she would die at their hands. “Manche's mother said she would force us to leave the church. She beat Manche every time she returned from church,” the cousin recalled later. Relations worsened, and the mother hid the girl's clothes so she could not attend Christian instructional classes. On February 4, 1928, her parents led the teenager to a lonely place, where they killed her, burying her by a granite rock on a remote hillside.

I shall pray for him very much (Isidore Bakanja)

During the colonial times in the Congo, the missionaries were not loved by the colonists, even though they both came from the same nations. The missionaries would usually defend the rights of the abused African slaves, which would anger the colonists.

The Trappist missionaries from Belgium met a young man named Bakanja. Bakanja worked for some white colonizers as an assistant in building-making. He became a Catholic and was baptized as Isidore. He had great love for the Blessed Virgin and always wore his scapular as his identity as a Christian.

When his contract with the whites expired, Isidore Bakanja found work as a servant to a Belgian national. He was transferred to a plantation in Ikili, where it was said that the whites hated Christians. In Ikili, Isidore taught his friends about the Christian religion, prayed in his home and continued wearing his scapular. The agent in Ikili, Mr. Longange, didn’t like Isidore and his faith. Even though Isidore asked to resign, the agent would not allow it.

One night as Isidore was serving his master at supper, Mr. Longange noticed his Brown Scapular. He ordered him to take it off. Isodore did not. A few days later Mr. Longange noticed it again. He had Isodore beaten. The second time the agent tore the scapular from Isidore's neck, had him pinned to the ground, and then beaten with over 100 blows with a whip of elephant hide with nails on the end. He was then chained to a single spot 24 hours a day.

When an inspector came to the plantation, Isidore was sent to another village. He managed to hide in the forest, then dragged himself to the inspector. "I saw a man," wrote the horrified inspector, "come from the forest with his back torn apart by deep, festering, malodorous wounds, covered with filth, assaulted by flies. He leaned on two sticks in order to get near me - he wasn't walking; he was dragging himself". The agent tried to kill "that animal of mon pere", but the inspector prevented him. He took Isidore home to heal, but Isidore knew better. "If you see my mother, or if you go to the judge, or if you meet a priest, tell them that I am dying because I am a Christian."

Fortunately, two missionaries came to give him spiritual comfort. The victim explained what had happened, “The white man did not like Christians ... He did not want me to wear the scapular... He yelled at me when I said my prayers.” Forgive this man, the missionaries urged him. Isidore answered that he had already done so, and held no grudge against him, “Certainly I shall pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much.” So he received the last sacraments most devoutly. But it was not yet over. His agony lasted six more months. He died on August 8 or 15, 1909, the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel around his neck and the rosary grasped in his hand.

I will take his place (Maximillian Kolbe)

On February 17, 1941, Gestapo agents seized Franciscan Fr. Maximillian Kolbe and four other Brothers and first took them to Pawiak prison in Warsaw. The night before his arrest, Fr. Kolbe said, “What indescribable happiness! What a great grace it is to seal one’s ideal with one’s life.” For many times, the Gestapo have been asking Fr. Kolbe to take German citizenship, since Kolbe is a German surnamce. But Fr. Kolbe refused to do so both on religious and patriotic reasons. Also, his work in the Catholic press was not pleasing to the Nazis.

While in prison, Father was violently beaten for being a religious and a priest. He wrote to his children remaining at Niepokalanow, “The Immaculata, most loving Mother, has always surrounded us with tenderness and will watch over us always Let us be led by her, more and more perfectly where she wishes and according to her pleasure, so that, fulfilling our duties to the end, we may, through love, save all souls.” Many times in prison, Fr. Kolbe spoke of martyrdom. One of his brothers told him that what they are suffering for is for the country. But Father Kolbe told him, “Son, I tell you that if it is thus, the Martyrdom is certainly for the faith.” There, he was beaten many times for wearing a crucifix.

Several days later Father Kolbe was transferred to the camp at Auschwitz. The priest, who was too ill to walk, have been pushed, kicked and beaten. He tried to do what was commanded to him, like hauling wheel barrels full of gravel to build crematorium walls. But no matter what violence they used on the priest, Fr. Kolbe never ceased loving them.

Fr. Kolbe infuriated the Nazis because of his priesthood. To punish him, the guards would save the most demeaning work for him. At one time, they even set their vicious dogs on him. Many times, he said, “For Jesus, I am prepared to suffer.” The Nazis also used Fr. Kolbe for carrying corpses to the crematorium. He blessed each dead people he carried.

Soon hospitalized following severe beatings, he spent his nights hearing confessions, despite it being forbidden and the threat of reprisals. He knew how to turn evil itself into good, and one day said to a sick person, “Hate is not a creative force. Only love is creative. These sufferings will not make us bend, but they should help us to be even stronger. They are necessary, with other sacrifices, so that those who come after us may be happy.” He shared among his companions the experience of the Paschal Mystery, in which suffering lived in Faith is transformed into joy. He was so happy being hopspitalized because so many people there needed a priest. He shared with them food which he really saved for them after going out from the hospital.

One day, he sneaked in some hosts. If Fr. Kolbe was caught saying Mass, it would mean immediate execution. He distributed among his fellown prisoners the Eucharist, but he never accepted any rations from them. When he left the hospital, he was sent to a cell called Blocked 14.

In the end of July, a prisoner from the block where Fr. Kolbe was kept escaped. It was a policy in the camp that for each prisoner who escaped, 10 would be killed brutally for his place. The men in Block 14 lived in fear and torment.

The next day, the prisoners were lined up under the scorching sun. They were not given anything to eat or drink. Many of them collapsed. As the night approached, other prisoners were sent to watch the helpless men from block 14. Commander Fritsch announced that ten of them would be chosen to die since the escapee was not found.

When the ten were chosen, one of the men, Francis Gajowniczek, cried out, “My poor wife! My poor children! Goodbye!” Hearing this, Fr. Kolbe walked up to the front of the commandant, a bold act which is punishable by shooting on the spot. He told the commandant, “I would like to die in the place of one of these men.” Fritsch asked, “Why?” Kolbe said, “I am sick and the weak must be liquidated. I am an old man sir, and good for nothing. My life is no longer of use to anyone.” He was asked whose place would he want to take. “The one with the wife and children.” “And who are you?” “A Catholic priest.” Gajowniczek was crossed out from the list, and Fr. Kolbe was sent with the nine other men to the starvation bunker.

The starvation bunker was an underground cell where the rays of the sun cold not manage to reach. It was a virtual grave itself. The men were left there to die. A witness said that Fr. Kolbe would lead his fellow prisoners in prayers anmd singing that passing by the cell was like “descending into the crypt of a church.” Sometimes, the prisoners would be so absorbed in prayer that they wouldn’t notice that the guards would come in and check them. Only when the guards would shout at them would they stop. The prisoners died one by one. On August 14, 1941, two weeks later, only four men remained alive in the starvation bunker. Among them was Fr. Kolbe. The four men were killed with lethal injection. Fr. Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips gave his arm to his executioner. Maximilian Kolbe was 47 years old when he was executed. Francis Gajowniczek to live to a very old age to the point that he managed to attend Fr. Kolbe’s canonization in 1980.
e camp that for each prisoner who escaped, 10 would be killed brutally for his pace. walls. is for the cou
When he was young, he reportedly saw a vision of Mary, offering two crowns. One of the crowns was white, which symbolized purity, and the other was red, symbolizing martyrdom. Our Lady asked him which of the crowns would he like to take. Young Maximillian chose both.

The preacher of Buchenwald (Paul Schneider)

When Adolf Hitler was assigned by the German president to chancellory, Lutheran Pastor Paul Schneider believed that the new leader would lead Germany to a brighter future with God’s help. However, his hoped faded when the Nazis began ridiculing God’s divinity and the Church. Pastor Schneider protested against this and joined the “Confessing Church,” a Protestant organization which opposed Hitler and the Nazis. In 1935, the Nazis detained him for a short while for protesting against the Nazis on the pulpit. In the winter of 1935-1936 alone, the pastor had been interrogated by the Nazis for twelve times. Pastor Schneider told his friends that he did not want martyrdom, but he was only following Christ.

In 1937, Pastor Schneider excommunicated his parishioners who supported the Nazi party. Because of this, he was imprisoned by the Nazis for two months. After his release, he was banned from returning to the Dickenshied congregation, his parish. But even after his release, he continued criticizing the Nazis. In 1937, he was arrested after worshipping with the Dickenshied congregation. He was imprisoned in the Buchenwald camp.

In the camp, he was sentenced to solitary confinement. From his cell window, he preached to the other prisoners the Gospel. Each time he preached, the Nazis beat him mercilessly. A fellow prisoner once begged him to stop preaching out of mercy, but the pastor continued witnessing to the truth. A Catholic priest, Fr. Leonhard Steinwender, said about the Pastor: “In front of the single-storeyed building of the camp there stretched the immense parade-ground... On feast-days, in the silence of the roll-call, suddenly from behind the barred dinginess of the camp, there echoed the powerful voice of Pastor Schneider. He would preach like a prophet, or rather, he would try to preach. On Easter Sunday, for instance, we heard to our surprise the powerful words, ‘Thus says the Lord: I am the Resurrection and the Life!’ The long lines of prisoners stood at attention, deeply moved by the courage and energy of that indomitable will... He could never utter more than a few phrases. Then we would hear raining down on him the blows of guards' truncheons.”

On July 18, 1939, Pastor Schneider was martyred with a lethal injection. Despite Gestapo surveillance, hundreds of people attended Pastor Schneider’s funeral, including many members of the Confessing Church. One of the pastors preached at the grave side, “May God grant that the witness of your shepherd, our brother, remain with you and continue to impact on future generations and that it remain vital and bear fruit in the entire Christian Church.”

The Ten Boom Family

The members of the ten Boom family were devout members of the Reformed Church of Holland. They owned a watch shop and were very respected by their community. As early as the thirties, the ten Booms were already sympathetic for the Jews. Wilhelm ten Boom, a minister, was the first member of the family to help the Jews.

Living in the floor above the watch shop were Casper ten Boom, a widower, and his two daughters Corrie and Betsie. Their first Jewish fugitive was a Mrs. Kleermaker. Mr ten Boom welcomed her, saying, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome.” Two nights later, a Jewish couple knocked on the door of the ten Boom residence, and they were accepted. All in all, the ten Booms had seven Jewish guests and others who resided for only a short matter of time. In order to protect the Jewish refugees just in case of a raid, the ten Booms hired a famous architect to design a secret room and a warning buzzer. At the sound of the buzzer, the guests would all hide in the secret room.

One time, Nollie ten Boom, the wife of Wilhelm ten Boom, was caught with a blonde lady. She blurted out the truth, “She is a Jew.” Both of them were arrested. Corrie was in bed of flue at that time. One time, a spy went to the ten Booms asking for money from the ten Booms since, according to him, his wife was in prison for being a Jew. Corrie sent him to the bank with a note telling the bankers to give him money. A few minutes later, the Gestapo burst into their home and arrested the three ten Booms, but they never found the Jews hiding in the secret room. They all escaped, and six survived the war.

Nollie and Willem were released from prison, but not Casper, Corrie and Betsie. The women were sent to Ravensbruck, and Casper was sent to Schevingen, where he died at the age of eighty-four.

The two sisters found their strength in a hidden Bible. Through these, they would read the Bible to their fellow prisoners. Prisoners from other nationalities would translate them into their own languages. This was described as “little glimpses of heaven.”

One time, while they were digging and shovelling in the camp, Betsie became weak and coughed blood. The guard slashed her across the chest and neck with his crop. She told Corrie, “Don’t look, Corrie. Look at Jesus only.” Betsie gradually became weak. On her death bed, she told Corrie, “Corrie, people can still learn to love.”

Corrie was released a few days later. She later learned that her release was due to a clerical error. She survived for more than forty years after her liberation and told the people about their story.

A great desire well up inside him to sacrifice himself for the salvation of others (Salvo D'Acquisto)

In 1939, Salvo d’Acquisto’s generous-mindedness led him to enrol in the Carabinieri, the Italian Military Police Force. He soon distinguished himself by his conscientiousness and his respectful attitude towards everyone. He seemed to need “to help people, combining this expression of his love for God and his concern for his neighbour with the traditional qualities of the policeman: love for the fatherland, courage, a spirit of sacrifice and a sense of duty. In November 1940 he volunteered to go to Cyrenaica (Libya) and stayed there until 1942, experiencing, as his mother observed, “a great desire well up inside him to sacrifice himself for the salvation of others.” It was his life’s wish. He himself wrote to his mother, “We have to conform ourselves to God’s will whatever the cost in suffering or sacrifice.”

On September 22, 1943, the Nazi barracks in the village of Palidoro, Rome, was bombed by resistance fighters. One German soldier was killed and two others were wounded. The German soldiers went to the headquarters of the Carabinieri in Torrimpietra. They were received by Salvo, who was the only officer in the headquarters at that moment, since the Commanding Officer was absent. The Germans told Salvo to follow them and took him in their armoured car to Palidoro.

Since the Nazis could not find any more Carabinieri soldiers, they took 23 civilians from Palidoro as hostages. Salvo was ordered to identify among those they had rounded up the one responsible for the incident of the previous evening. But Salvo said no one was involved. Because of this, he was beaten by the police. “If we do not find the guilty one,” they shouted, “the whole lot will die!” The hostages and Salvo were loaded on a truck and brought to Torre di Palidoro.

The hostages were protesting their innocence. But they were given shovels to dig their own graves. The hostages found it hard to dig their own graves. Salvo tried to encourage the others, but their emotions were too great. Finally, out of love for his neighbour, Salvo told the Nazis that he alone was the one who was involved in the bombing the last night and asked that the innocent civilians be set free. Salvo was shot to death that afternoon, only two weeks before his twenty-third birthday. The soldiers buried Salvo in the grave. But the civilians of the village exhumed the body and gave it a Christian burial.

When the German Commandant heard of Salvo's offer to die for the others, “he was startled and paced nervously up and down for a time,” probably greatly disturbed himself and in admiration of the gesture, as we learn from witnesses.

On February 26, 2001, John Paul II in his Address to the Italian Carabinieri , stated, “The history of the Italian Carabinieri shows that the heights of holiness can be reached in the faithful and generous fulfillment of the duties of one's state. I am thinking here of your colleague, Sergeant Salvo d'Acquisto, awarded a gold medal for military valor, whose cause of beatification is under way.”

No satisfactory guarantee for Nazi education (Elizabeth von Thadden)

During the first years of Nazism, Elisabeth von Thadden, a Protestant school mistress, was attracted to the ideas of the new Reich. She was still quite blind to the intentions of the Nazis. But as the Nazi’s evil agendas became more and more exposed, she gradually became disappointed.When the Nazis came to power, they banned von Thadden to enroll Jewish girls in the Christian bording school which she founded, but she defied those rules.

Unknown to von Thadden, one of the girls enrolled in her school was the daughter of a Nazi mother. She was sent by her mother to spy on the school’s activities. Once, von Thadden held a worship service in her school and chose some verses from the Psalms as text. The girl immediately reported this to her mother, and the Gestapo were sent to the school. The Bavarian Culture Ministry threatened the school with closure for “activities endangering the state” because there was no portrait of Hitler hanging in the school building, and because at worship services, where the texts are mostly from the Psalms, therefore making it Jewish. Von Thadden was interrogated, and most of the topics in interrogation was about religion. Von Thadden didn’t close the school, however. So the school was nationalized and Von Thadden was unceremoniously suspended from the school's governing board without compensation. The Nazis saw in the school “no satisfactory guarantee for National-Socialist-aligned education.”

Von Thadden went back to Berlin and joined the Red Cross as a nursing assistant. She also developed contacts with opponents of the Nazi régime such as Helmut Gollwitzer, Martin Niemöller and Elly Heuss-Knapp and also engaged in activities such as gathering food stamps for people in hiding and affording those threatened by the régime a chance to leave the country. She quite underestimated the danger of doing these things.

Von Thadden became involved in the “Solf Circle”, which was organized by an ambassador’s widow and her daughter and tackled pressing issues about Nazism in tea parties. The Nazis saw this as a threat to the Reich. On September 10, 1943, von Thadden invited members of the circle to her birthday party, where they talked about Nazism. One of the guests was a Swiss Doctor who was spying for the Nazis.

Over the next faw months, members of the circle and von Thadden were arrested. Von Thadden was sent to Ravensbruck. She was sentenced to death for “attempted high treason because of the assumed connection with Reichchancellor Wirth and his circle, and the destruction of the army’s morale through the conversations about hopelessness of the state of war.” The sentence was delayed because of the attempt on Hitler’s life. She was beheaded on September 8, 1944, in Plotzensee prison. The pastor who accompanied her to death said that she walked with steady steps. She went the way in a brave fight against her enemies, but without rebellion against God.

The Ulma Family

During the Nazi Occupation of Poland, many Jews had to escape from the Nazis in order to save their lives. They were discriminated, their properties were confiscated, and majority of them were sent to concentration camps. Many of the Jews sought refuge in Christian households, but they were only given a few days to stay out of fear of reprisals. One family showed complete hospitality to the endangered Jews to the point of risking their lives out of performing this act of charity.

Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma lived in Markowa. They were poor peasants who owned a fruit orchard. They were married in 1937 and had six children: four boys and two girls. Jozef was known to be sympathetic to the Jews and have sheltered a great number of Jews since the start of the war. Many Jews came to be sheltered since the house of the Ulmas was far from the village and it gave them a sense of safety. The last Jews they sheltered were six members of the Szallow family and the Goldman sisters. The eight Jews hid in the attic of the Ulmas for many months.

One time, the Nazi police searched every house in Markowa for sheltered Jews. The police discovered the Jews hidden in the Ulma household. First, the policemen only took a photograph of the house then left them in peace. In March 23, the police began to plan a crime.

The next day, at dawn, the police came to the Ulma household. German police surrounded the house. Then, shots were heard. First to be killed were the eight Jews. Then, Jozef and Wiktoria were taken to the garden of their house and killed. Wiktoria was nine-months pregnant at that time. The last ones to be killed were the six children. The oldest child was Stasia, eight, and the youngest was Marysia, one. Many villagers were forced to watch the massacre as a sign of warning for those who shelter Jews.

Father Stanislaw Jamrozek, the postulator of the canonization cause of the family, said the request for canonization was initiated by Markowa residents, “who still cherish the memory of their murdered neighbors.”

I want to be with my people (Stanley Rother)

The Oklahoma diocese adopted the T'zutuhil-Mayan community in Guatemala for missions, and they sent priests from their diocese to work as missionaries to the community. Among those priests was Fr. Stanley Rother. He was not politically active, and his fellow priests in the area considered him to be the most conservative in their group. But that wasn't the point. Rother loved his people, and they loved him. And their suffering became his suffering. He could not ignore what he was seeing and living in his parish of Santiago Atitlán.

During those times, the military entered the community and persecuted the Indian community. The Catholic Church was also targeted for persecution. Some 150 other priests and religious men and women were forced to leave the country under the threat of death. Military leaders accused the church of supporting communism through its preaching on human, land and labor rights, and the work of its pastoral agents in the field. The bible came to be considered a subversive book, and people in villages would often hide them, burying them behind their houses or in their fields, so that soldiers would not find them.

One evening, in 1981, a catechist of Fr. Rother’s parish was abducted and disappeared. Rother came to the door and ended up witness to the kidnapping of his friend. He could do nothing, and in the following years, the cries of his friend haunted him. Fr. Rother said, “That makes 11 members of the community that have been kidnapped and all are presumed dead...For these 11 that are gone, there are eight widows and 32 children among the group.”

Soon after, Fr. Rother’s name was in the army’s death list. Fearing for the protection of his flock, Fr. Rother fled to Oklahoma, but returned to the people he loved. “If I have to die, I will die there. I want to be there with my people.”

On the night July 28, 1981, three hooded men came into Fr. Rother’s rectory to kidnap him. But Fr. Rother struggled against them, knowing that he would be kidnapped, tortured and killed. People around the rectory heard Fr. Rother say to the men, “No, I won’t go with you. Kill me here!” Then, he was shot to death. He was the tenth priest to be killed between the years 1980-1981.

Thousands came to the funeral, so many that the pews had to be removed from the church to make room for them. Twenty-five priests concelebrated a Mass on the day of his death. The following day, two bishops and 35 priests concelebrated the funeral Mass. His body was buried in Oklahoma, while his heart was in Santiago Atitlan.

The US Embassy did not even send a representative to the memorial Mass for Rother. Only one American reporter attended. There have been no congressional fact-finding teams. Sources within the US Embassy in Guatemala indicate the incident has a low priority. Like the four American nuns killed in El Salvador, the American administration ignored his death and continued sending military support to the repressive soldiers of Guatemala.

Felipe and Mary Barreda

Felipe and Mary Barreda were already married for thirty years. They raised six children and had fifteen grandchildren. In the 70’s, the couple joined the Cursillo movement and became leaders of the Basic Ecclesial Community in their hometown, where they lived in service to the poor out of Christian charity.

During those times, it was hard to live a Christian life in Nicaragua based on the Gospels. The Basic Ecclesial Communities were often suspected with political implications. But the only activities of the Community was to bring families together to reflect on the scripture and help them live Christian lives.

Before Christmas in 1982, Felipe and Mary volunteered to work in a coffee plantation. Picking coffee would not be construed as a Christian witness, but the risk and meaning of this work were clearly understood by the Barredas. In a letter to her friend, she wrote, “The opportunity to go and pick coffee will be converted into health, clothing, homes and roads and food. For this, I am going to pick coffeewith all love and enthusiasm of which I am capable. Please understand that in every grain that I cut, every bean that I pick, every one of your faces will be present, the faces of your children, and even the faces of those that I don’t know. . . .We wish to ask yoyu to be present with God this Christmastime with a smile, with greater care for your children. Wherever I may be, I’ll be thinking of you in these moments. I love you all very much.”

On December 28, the farm where they were working were attacked by the Contra rebels. The Barredas and other farmers were kidnapped, and the coffee harvests were destroyed.

The Barredas were marched into a camp in Honduras, where they were subjected to beatings and torture. Mary was repeatedly raped. The Barredas were forced to declare themselves as communists, but they responded with prayers and protestations of their Christian faith. On January 7, 1983, Felipe and Mary were executed.
In their funeral in the cathedral of Esteli, five thousand people attended. The couple were acclaimed as Christian martyrs who laid down their lives in faithfulness to the Gospel and their commitment to God and their neighbour.

The Martyrs of Kongolo

In the town of Kongolo, in the Democratic Congo, anti-Catholic rebels killed 20 Belgian missionaries from the order of the Holy Spirit. The priests established their monastery since 1909. There lived the priests, old men, children, patients, 40 Sisters and 56 seminarians.

On Sunday, December 31 1961, therebels attacked the town of Kongolo, with anti-Catholic sentiments. The rebels spread terror in different parts of the country. The rebels are planning to kill the “mercenaries,” which are the priests. The priests were accused of breaking the confessional seal, participating in the battle in Lukika, and many more false accusations. Immediately, the soldiers attacked the mission, where a white flag was raised.

The priests had their shoes, glasses and watches removed from them. They were beaten and loaded to the truck. The other nuns and seminarians were also abducted. Meanwhile, the soldiers plundered the seminary and the mission house.

The missionaries were brought to the military camp. There, they suffered maltreatment, beatings and insults. Then, a mock trial began. The soldiers demanded for the death of the missionaries.

The atrocities began. In the eyes of the nuns and seminarians, the priests were laid on the ground, had their cassocks raised and were whipped with whips made of thin stripes of hippopotamus skin. Then, the priests were called by name, sentencing them to death.

That night, the nuns were brought back to the convent. It is not sure if the soldiers made an attempt to their purity, but the nuns were heard screaming. The priests and seminarians were placed in cells. The missionaries prepared themselves for martyrdom.

The next day, January 1 1962, the seminarians were brought to the military camp in Lualaba. The priests were brought to the river and were mutilated. The seminarians were beaten, but no one was killed among them. They were forced to throw the bodies of the priests to the river.

Every year, the Kongolo Diocese celebrates their martyrdom with a mass and ordination of priests, making the memory of the martyrs alive.

They cannot silence the Gospel, which is the voice of Jesus (The Martyrs of La Rioja, Argentina)

In 1969, Bishop Enrique Angelelli of the La Rioja diocese held his first mass aired on the radio. May, 1969, the Bishop wrote in his pastoral an analysis of the reality in La Rioja and the liberation of the people. Because of this, Monsignor Angelelli became closer to workers and farmers. He denounced drugs, gambling and prostitution among the powerful people of La Rioja. He visited all districts and forgotten rural provinces in his diocese, encouraging them to solve their problems. He demanded to the national government for budget for the nation, condemned the human rights abuses by governors, encouraged the organization of the domestic employees and insisted all to commit in the political action on the service and well-being of the town. But conservative Catholic groups protested against the actions of Bishop Angelelli and his radio programs were banned.
In 1973, during the general elections, the people’s hopes were returned. The mass aired on the radio was allowed again. But, the Church was persecuted. On June 13, in Annilaco, there had been expulsion organized by landowners of priests and nuns. Many people called the Church of La Rioja “Communists”.
In 1974, the country suffered more problems with socio-political crisis. In September, Angelelli visited Rome. In Rome, he was advised not to return anymore because he is being threatened by the "Three A" (group for police officers of the Anti-communist Alliance of Argentina). But Angelelli returned to his suffering flock and defended their rights.

In February of 1976, the General Vicar of the Diocese of La Rioja, Mons. Esteban Inestal and two leaders of the Rural Movement were arrested. After the coup d’etat on March 24, the people and the Church were persecuted. Mons. Angelelli spoke out in defense of his suffering flock. He made negotiations with the military government, and even talked with Commander Luciano III. Realizing that his priests and religious’ lives are in danger, he advised them to leave the Diocese and take refuge. He refused the Latin American Bishop’s Conference’s invitation for an encounter in Quito, Ecuador. Things got worse. Many more priests were arrested.

On 18 July 1976, the priests GABRIEL LONGUEVILLE, a French priest aged 44, and CARLOS DE DIOS MURIAS, 33, were having a dinner. Two people, members of the Federal police, came and talked with them for about ten minutes. They were told to go to La Rioja to identify some prisoners. The two took advantage of this trip by taking some belongings for a pastoral meeting. Then, they went to La Rioja. Nothing more is heard about them. The next day, the bodies of the two priests were found near the railroad with clear signs of torture.

On hearing the death of the two priests, the Bishop of Longueville’s diocese in France went to the place of their martyrdom, kissed the ground and planted grains of wheat from Longueville’s village. Monsignor Angelelli officiated the funeral of the two martyrs. He recalled what Murias said three hours before he disappeared, “They can silence the voice of the Bishop and the voice of Carlos de Dios Murias, but they can not silence the Gospel, which is the voice of Jesus.” He also said about Longueville, “Gabriel, man of peace, sensitive to the sufferings of his neighbors, faithful friend, alert and of a few words.”

The day after the crime, men wearing hoods went to look for the parish priest of Sanogasta, but he had already left on the recommendation of the Bishop, Monsignor Enrique Angelelli. A layperson who attended to them, WENCESLAO PEDERNERA, was asked about the whereabouts of the priest. He was shot when he told them that the priest was not there. Pedrenera is a married person and a farmer. He is also a member of the Young Catholic Workers.

On 4 August, seventeen days after the murder of the priests, Monsignor Enrique Angelelli, Bishop of the Diocese of La Rioja, died, allegedly in a car accident. However, overwhelming evidence has been gathered which suggests that it was an assassination.

The Bishop had just left Chamical where he had celebrated Mass and given a sermon in which he denounced the previous murders. The Bishop was driving a van, and Father Arturo Pinto who was accompanying him, remembers how just as they left Chamical a car began to follow them. The Bishop accelerated, but then another car appeared and at the height of the Punta de los Llanos the cars blocked their path and forced the van to overturn.

The body of the Bishop was left on the ground for six hours, the van disappeared, and the only injury that the corpse of Monsignor Angelelli showed was a broken neck, as if it had been repeatedly struck. The briefcase that the Bishop was carrying was never found.

When Democracy returned to Argentina, the case of the murder of the Bishop was returned. It was declared that Bishop Angelelli was murdered, and that he did not die in a car accident.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My God, forgive these brothers (Lucien Botovasoa)

During a civil war in Madagascar, Lucien refused to take up arms to kill the innocent on account of his faith. He was threatened, but he persisted. Finally, he was condemned to die. Before being killed, he asked his executiners for a moment to pray. The executioners left him alone for some minutes and heard him say, "My God, forgive these brothers."

Sixteen years later, Lucien's executioner came to a French missionary and told him, "Father, it is I who killed Lucien Botovasoa seventeen years ago. Before dying, he told me, 'When you really need me, I will be close to you.' I know that he is here. Baptize me, Father, for I will die soon." The executioner was baptized, and he soon died afterwards.

I have only one request, forgive those who killed me (Ghasibe Kayrouz)

During the Lebanese civil war, a young man preparing to enter the seminary was killed. Ghasibe Kayrouz was born to a poor Maronite family near Beirut. From his childhood, the Catholic faith was introduced to him by the example of his parents who educated their children in a spirit of prayer and love to God.

After his father's death, Ghassibe helps his family to survive by teaching religion to children in the countryside. It is at this point that Ghassibe's extraordinary Faith reveals itself. It is in this love for God that he enters the Jesuit seminary in Beirut. Ghassibe's Passion arrives upon his decision, one Christmas, to return to his native village. He never reaches his home, however, as he is captured and held hostage by a Muslim family who want to blackmail Ghassibe's family for land. Ghassibe's witness to Faith until death is provoked following his decision to knowingly make the sign of the Cross in this Muslim house. The Muslim men of the house, enraged by this, kill Ghassibe.

Later, after his death, his family discovered a letter which was written by Ghassibe himself. In it, they learned that even before his death, he had a premonition about his future martyrdom. It might probably have started when three of is friends were killed for their faith.

In the testament, he wrote, "I have only one request, forgive those who killed me." He also offered his blood for the conversion of sinners in Lebanon and for peace, love, and reconciliation not only in Lebanon, but also in the whole world.

They suffered like the people (Jesuit Priests and Dominican Nuns)

Before any missionaries were killed in Rhodesia there were isolated instances of individual terrorist leaders demonstrating anti- religious views. A piece of rhetoric, left at the scene of an unsuccessful bridge demolition near a mission, closed with the words "Down with Christ." Subsequent to the first killings, in May 1977, a terrorist leader told missionaries: "If the Jews had not killed Christ, I would have done it myself." Other missionaries were told by terrorists not to mention Christ and His resurrection in the course of preaching. It has been pointed out that this restriction is ominously akin to similar impositions made upon the Russian churches. In another incident, the Roman Catholic Church was described as representing the evils of capitalism.

On the night of February 6, 1977, seven Catholic missionaries were massacred by the rebels for no reason at all. According to a survivor, the rebels killed the missionaries without saying anything. Those who were killed are four Dominican nuns and three Jesuit priests.

Fr. Myerscough, the only one who survived the massacre, narrated the events that happened. According to him, the rebels rounded up the white missionaries, ignoring the black staff and sisters. After they were rounded up, they were brought to an abandoned place a short distance from the mission. The missionaries were unaware of what will happen to them until three of the rebels opened fire. The missionaries began to run for safety. According to Fr. Myerscough, after the shooting stopped, he saw the seven dead.

Fr. Myerscough is aware of the reason why his fellow missionaries were killed. He said that the murders were “obviously the result of Russian indoctrination. In my opinion, if you want proof the Communists are behind this, come to the mission. The terrorists must have been got at to have that brutality in them." According to the police, more than 100 cartridge cases fired from Russian-made rifles and a machine-gun were found in the murder scene.

It is not known from what group did the murderers of the missionaries come from, but they probably came from the rebel groups. According to those who knew the murdered missionaries, they are not interested in knowing who the real murderers are. For them, what is important is that the missionaries are aware of the dangers that they might face and they persevered in remaining with the people. Finally, they suffered like the people.

We have decided to remain with you! (Three Missionaries in Burundi)

The missionaries who tried to reconcile the groups were also killed, even though they are not Africans. On September 30, 1995, three missionaries were killed in their residence. They are Xaverian missionaries Fr. Aldo Marchiol and Fr. Ottorino Maule; and the lay volunteer Catina Gubert. The three missionaries worked in Burundi for a long time already and had been receiving death threats from the government for speaking out for the people.

It was discovered that the government was trying to get rid of the missionaries, and if they could not get rid of them, they would be killed. Ms. Gubert has plans to go back to Italy in July, but she postponed her trip, saying, “I was thinking to come to Italy after the return of Fr. Ottorino, but how can I leave now? There is so much to do, especially now that the situation is getting worse. I don’t feel I could betray them this way. The Lord is giving me strength to endure these times, and so I stay. It might be in one, two months? Will see!” The missionaries are aware of their fates if they remained. Fr. Maule was once asked by a child, “Is it true that you are going away?” Fr. Maule replied, “We have decided to remain with you!”

The deaths of these missionaries are fruitful. In their funeral, the mother of Fr. Maule said, “Tell Father General to send new missionaries to take the place of my son, Ottorino.”

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon (Jose Sanchez del Rio)

Jose Sanchez del Rio was only thirteen when the religious persecution in Mexico broke out. He wanted to follow their footsteps, but because of his young age, the General would not allow him to join the fight. Jose begged to be allowed to be a young soldier for Christ the King. His mother, of course, objected, saying that he might be killed. “Mama, do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon,” he replied. Jose was accepted as the flag bearer of the troops and was given the nickname of “Tarcisio” after the young martyr of Rome.
In a fierce battle on February 5, 1928, the General’s horse was shot. Like a true veteran, Jose leapt off his own horse saying, “My General, take my horse and save yourself. If they kill me, I won’t be missed, but you would!” Then the young soldier crawled to a strategic position and began shooting until he used his last cartridge. He was captured and taken to his home town of Sahuayo, and put in the sacristy of the church as his jail.
One of Jose’s childhood friends, Marcial Maciel, said, “One of the windows looked out on the street and from there we could hear him sing, ‘To heaven, to heaven, to heaven I want to go,’ while awaiting his sentence. The federals were using the parish as a prison, and also as a corral. Rafael Picazo, who controlled the village of Sahuayo, put as a condition to release him that he deny his faith before Picazo himself and his soldiers. We all heard about this, and we were very worried and in a tremendously emotional and sad state. We, his friends, met together to pray for him. We cried a lot, asking the Most Holy Virgin that he not be killed but, at the same time, that he not renounce his faith. In fact, Jose wanted no part in renouncing the faith.”
In order to terrorize him, the soldiers made him watch the hanging of one of the other captured Cristeros. Jose encouraged the man, saying “Lazaro, you will be in Heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon.”
Daily, Jose recited the rosary and sang songs of faith. From prison, he wrote a beautiful letter to his mother telling her that he was resigned to the Will of God. Jose’s father attempted to ransom his son, but was unable to raise the money in time.
On February 10, 1928, Jose was brutally tortured and the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off; he was then forced to walk on salt, followed by walking through the town to the cemetery. The young boy screamed with pain but would not give in. The soldiers placed Jose beside a grave already dug for the occasion. They stabbed him with their knives, and each time he was stabbed, he cried out, “Viva Cristo Rey!” When he was asked of the words he would like to tell his father, he said, “Tell him I shall see him in heaven.” Finally, he was shot to death.

Seven Visitandine Nuns

In May, 1931, the Visitandine Convent in Madrid dispersed its more than eighty sisters, disguised in street clothes, to their families and friends. Rumours have been circulating that the republicans would burn down their convent. The superior, Mother Maria Gabriela Hinojosa, wanted to make sure that her sisters would not be harmed just in case violence broke out.
Greater danger came when the government started requisitioning empty buildings. In order to keep control over the convent, Mother Gabriela asked six sisters to return. When things pacify, the other sisters would return. It became a necessity for seven sisters to stay behind just in case violence breaks out.
The seven sisters did not even dare to put on their habits or sleep in their usual cells. Instead, they wore secular clothing and slept together in a common room where they could flee at a moment’s notice. But as the years passed by, the situation became hotter. The seven sisters rented an apartment near the convent. The contemplative nuns had to learn the ways of the secular world.
When the war broke out, the sisters transferred the most precious objects of the convent into the apartment. At night, the sisters took turns in watching for signs of danger. People who met them said that they felt to be living in some kind of “new catacombs.”
Unfortunately, the seven nuns were betrayed by a neighbour. Their apartment was checked by the militia and the sacred objects were carted off. When the militia were checking their apartment, one of the nuns exclaimed, “What a joy, martyrdom is not far off.” The militia returned and told the nuns to report to the police station for some questioning. After the questioning, they were soon released. The neighbours of the nuns advised them to flee, but they refused, since they did not want to leave one of their sisters exposed to danger. They also refused to take refuge in foreign consulates in Madrid. They remained united, believing that it will take precedence over any physical peril.
Predictably, a truck arrived under the control of anarchist units. The sisters were loaded into the truck and set off. It stopped at the end of Calle Lopez de Hoyos. The sisters were loaded off the truck to be killed. As they held each other's hand, a barrage of gunfire shattered their bodies, except for Sr. Maria Cecilia, who had unwittingly started to run when she felt the sister next to her fall. Moments afterwards, she surrendered, declaring herself a nun, and was shot five days later at the cemetery wall in Vallecas on the outskirts of Madrid.

Maria Teresa Ferragud Roig and her daughters

During the height of the Spanish civil war, four nuns from the Masia-Ferragud family, sought refuge in the shelter of their mother, Maria Teresa Ferragud Roig, in Algemesi, Valencia. Maria Teresa, an elderly woman of 84, was a member of the Catholic Action and the widow of Silverio Masia. Of their nine children, five became nuns and their only son entered priesthood. Maria’s four daughters, who lived in different convents, continued to live according to the rules of the congregations in which they belonged, the Poor Clares and the Discalced Augustinians. Their mother, who raised them up as good Christians, joined them in their life of prayer and, together, they prepared themselves for their future martyrdom.
At that time, every prominent Catholic in Algemesi was killed by the anti-Catholic militia. However, the Masia-Ferragud sisters lived in safety in the shelter of their mother until they were betrayed by some neighbors. At four o’clock in the afternoon, on October 19, 1936, the militia came to arrest the four sisters. Maria Teresa did not want to leave her daughters, and so she followed them. The five women were imprisoned in Fons Salutis, formerly a convent of the Cistercian nuns. There, they remained peaceful and resigned to the will of God. Some of the militia men offered the four nuns freedom in exchange of marriage, but they refused.
At ten o’clock in the evening, October 25, the militia brought the four sisters on a car. Maria Teresa begged not to be separated from her daughters and joined them. The car went to the neighboring village of Alcira. During the trip, the five women prayed and encouraged each other. The women were taken to a place called “Cruz Abierto,” where they would be killed. The executioners wanted to kill the mother first, but she told the militia, “I want to know what you are going to do to my daughters, and if you are going to kill them, shoot them first with me being the last one.” Then she said to her daughters, “My daughters, be faithful to your celestial Husband and do not believe in the flatteries of these men.” She also told them, “My daughters, do not be afraid. Death is only a question of time.” One by one, her daughters were killed.
When the executioners came to her, they asked her, “Old woman, are you not afraid to die?” Maria Teresa told them, “All my life I wanted to do something for Jesus, and now I’m going to be left behind? Kill me for the same reason you killed my daughters. I am a Christian.” After killing her, the executioners said among themselves, “This is a true saint.”

Friday, July 07, 2006

I shall live and die for my religion (Ignatios Maloyan)

When the Turks announced the elimination of the Armenian race, Bishop Ignatios Maloyan prepared the Catholic clergy of Armenia for the great trial which awaits them and told them to pray. He himself was arrested on June 15, 1915 with other Catholics and interrogated by the Turks.
The interrogators asked Bishop Maloyan where he hid his weapons, but the bishop said he had always been faithful to the government. When advised to convert to Islam, Bishop maloyan resolutely refused. He said that he was ready to tolerate all kinds of sufferings even death so that he may always remain true to the faith, and in this was his ultimate happiness. And even if they condemned him to the worst punishments and cut his body with daggers he will not betray his faith. Because of this answer, Bishop Maloyan was beaten and sent to prison.
Despite his broken body, Bishop Ignatios Maloyan gathered his strength and said with all his might, “He who hears me among priests, I ask him to give me the absolution.” With that the soldiers went back hitting him, they extracted his nails and his blood spilled on the jail floor then they forced him to walk with his bleeding feet.
Bishop Ignatios Maloyan remained in jail with his congregation till June 9. On that day his mother visited him and cried for his state. But the bishop, her son, encouraged her by saying, “Don’t despair, oh mother, God has saved me for this glorious day. Don’t cry for me neither suffer, tomorrow, with my beloved imprisoned, I shall walk the road to Diyrbakir, what will happen to us, I don’t know, pray for us. Go back home and encourage my relatives to remain true to the faith.” He also asked for shoes to be able to walk the long way.
The next day, the Turks marched four-hundred-and-forty people to a desrted place called “Chikhan” and gave them the last chance to convert to Islam. All refused. Bishop Maloyan said on their behalf, “Not for a day, did we betray the Turkish government, not in the past or at the present. But if you want us to betray our loyalty to the Christian faith, this will never be.”
Bishop Ignatios Maloyan asked for a permission to say his last words to his believers. He gave them the general absolution and the Holy Eucharist. He also prayed for the courage to die as martyrs. One of the witnesses said, “That hour, I saw a cloud covering the prisoners and from all emitted a perfumed scent. What caused a great surprise was the look of joy and serenity on the faces of the believers, as they were all going to die out of love for Jesus."
The executioners separated the Catholics into three groups and brought them to different places, where they killed them. Before eliminating the last group, where bishop Maloyan belonged, they parted the Bishop from his friends, set him on a horse and took him to Farkabro three hours away from Diyarbekir. On arriving there Maloyan asked the soldiers, “Where are my children?” They answered, “They were taken to be killed.”
He was given the last chance to convert to Islam. Maloyan answered, “I am surprised by your question. I’ve told you I shall live and die for the sake of my faith and religion. I take pride in the Cross of my God and Lord.”
With this, the executioner shot Bishop Maloyan wit his pistol. The bullet hit Maloyan in his throat and he fell to the ground. Before he released his last breath he cried out loud, “My God, have mercy on me; Into your Hands I deliver my last breath.”

He sometimes sees fit to let his choicest servants seal their testimony by laying down their lives in the line of duty (Mavis Pate)

The short dark-haired Mavis Pate had served as a nurse in the famous hospital ship, SS Hope. At her first missionary appointment in 1964, she said, “God has his way to deal with us, and with this obstinate one, it required me there for about a year, to see the need that existed and to help point out to me my part in meeting that need. . . On the basis of that. . . I made the commitment to foreign mission service.”
She first served in Bangladesh, then in Thailand.In 1970, she was sent to a Baptist hospital in Gaza to work in the operating room and be the director of a nursing school. During the Six-Day war in 1967, she and the other missionaries in Gaza were in the most dangerous part of the globe. Many victims were brought to their hospital for treatment.
Nurse Pate was touched by the plight of the 360,000 Palestinians. She visited them in their refugee camps and shared to them her faith in Jesus. She prayed “that we all may be truly surrendered to His will, willing tools in his hand, channels for his blessings, more Christlike than manlike.
One Sunday evening, January 16, 1972, Nurse Pate left with Pastor Ed Nicholas and his three daughters on a short trip to Tel Aviv. After filling some oxygen tanks, she drove back to Gaza with a new car. There was danger of commando attacks from refugee camps, but the missionaries thought that they would be respected because of their neutrality. While on their way, hidden Palestinians opened fire on the vehicles of the missionaries. Pastor Nicholas and one of his daughters were wounded, while Nurse Pate was hit with three bullets. She lived for three more hours in the medical center in Beersheba, where she was brought by helicopter. She died while the doctors are working on her.
Many Palestinians apologized for the incident. They thought that the vehicles were Israeli army vehicles.
In the funeral, the executive director of Nurse Pate’s mission board said in a eulogy:
“We know how urgently a missionary nurse is needed, and how radiantly a life like this shines forth its Christian testimony. We recognize, however, that the Lord of the harvests knows more than we do about the affairs of his work. He sometimes sees fit to let his choicest servants seal their testimony by laying down their lives in the line of duty, and out of it God has a way of bringing sustained advance in the work of his kingdom.
Her silent grave will be a permanent witness to the high calling of God. Missionaries will look at it and remember the great extent to which the missionaries go in order that the love of Christ may be shared.
Non-Christian people will look at it and be reminded of the love of God that sent the Lord Jesus into the world for our redemption, and has continued sending his messengers forth to make salvation known.”

I will stay with the Fathers and the Sisters (Lucien Tapeidi and Companions)

During the Japanese invasion of Papua New Guinea, the missionaries who lived in the country watched events anxiously, and feared the worst. In January 1942 the Anglican bishop, Philip Strong, had broadcast an appeal to them to stay at their work, come what may. Many of the missionaries themselves wished this, and had already resisted calls to turn to safety.
In Northern Papua, a group of Anglican Missionaries landed on Gona for safety from capture. With them was Lucian Tapiedi, a faithful layman who assisted the missionaries. He said, “I will stay with the Fathers and the Sisters.”
While the missionaries were fleeing, they remembered that they have left a box containing records and money for the missionaries. Lucian volunteered to go back and get the box. Nearing the Jewala Creek, Lucian was met by a small group of Orakaiva men. Perhaps the box was left by design to give Lucian, the Papuan, a choice, plainly telling him their intentions regarding the Europeans. Lucian was killed with an axe there on the track and his body was buried nearby.
The party of whites and their escorts moved on to Kurumbo and on to Hanakiro. At Worisata Plantation one of the women became ill and was carried to Embi. At Embi the Porombeta man returned to their village and Boro men took charge of the “captives.” On 6th August the party set off, not in the direction of Eroro but towards Dobodura. At Joropa the party were handed over to the Japanese soldiers. The captives were put in a truck and driven off to Buna. There, the missionaries were killed with other white men.

I shall remain at my post (Clodesindis Luken)

Mother Clodesindis Luken, a Benedictine missionary from Germany, became a great missionary to the Filipino people and fostered vocations. She was popular in the country that the vice president once said of her, ““If Mother were to run as mayor of Manila, she would easily win.” After her term of office as prioress, she was assigned as superior to the Benedictine community of Legaspi. With a narrower scope of responsibility, Mother Clodesindis could attend personally to whoever might need her attention. She taught some classes, instructed lepers in religion and comforted them in many ways.
On December 21, 1941, the Japanese invaders landed at Legaspi City. Shortly after, they wanted to occupy St. Agnes School. Politely but firmly, Mother answered, “This is a school. Besides, Germany and Japan are allies. So you cannot take the school.” It was her personality rather than her logic that caused the Japanese to withdraw.
As the underground movement was active, many suspected guerillas were arrested and tortured. At the risk of her own life, Mother Clodesindis would plead for their lives, appealing for justice and mercy. With the community’s prayer and her own bravery and sacrifice, she saved many Filipinos from military cruelty and from death.
During the bombings in September 1944, many sought and found refuge at the convent. She braved the bombings to bring food and clothes to the lepers. On Holy Saturday of 1945, the sisters shortened the Office because of the bombings. Sensing danger, Mother Clodesindis addressed the community, “It is impossible to leave the house now; but after five this afternoon when things are quiet, you may all go to the air-raid shelter. I shall remain at my post.” When the carpet-bombing started, the sisters realized that St. Agnes was within the target area and, leaving the chapel, they hurried to the shelter. As usual, Mother was at the rear to look after everyone. Just then she met some children who were crying in fright. She got them candies and led them to the Sacred Heart statue to pray with them and calm their fears. In was there that an incendiary bomb struck the main building, hit the statue and killed Mother Clodesindis.
On April 4, some American soldiers brought to the sisters the bones which were believed to be Mother Clodesindis’ remains. After the War, on August 11, 1945, there was a solemn transference of the bones to the cemetery at Albay. Afterwards, they were brought to the sisters’ cemetery in Baguio. There, sisters come every day to pray and ask for help. Mother Clodesindis’ presence still prevails.

Martyrs of the Korean Deathmarch

During the Korean war, the Communists of the North arrested missionaries from the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and Salvation Army Churches and some diplomats from foreign legates.. They were held in prison and were indoctrinated with Marxist ideas. They even told them once, “The most potenet weapon of the west held against its enemies was not the atom bomb, but religion.” They were told that since religion was non sense, the purpose of the missionaries in Korea were for being political agents. One Carmelite nun who was kidnapped even wrote in her diary that she overheard one of the soldiers shouting, “There is nothing but to destroy Rome and the Vatican. . . We are going to kill all the priests and nuns tonight!”
Those who were arrested included a group of Belgian and French Carmelite nuns, who were arrested for refusing to leave their Korean sisters instead of returning to their native lands for safety. Also imprisoned was Bishop Patrick Byrne, an American Maryknoll missionary who was the apostolic delegate of the Pope to Korea. All lived at death’s door in the camp, had it not been for a Korean priest who risked his life by bringing the necessities of the foreign prisoners.
Camp life in the North was quite hard, especially for the Catholic priests. Some of them were imprisoned by the Japanese soldiers and were allowed to perform the Mass. But they were not allowed to in the hands of their Korean captives. They were all being prepared for the death march, where the captives would be forced to march from South Korea to the Yalu River in the North. The march would begin on October 31, 1950. The snow was deep at that time. One of the Salvation Army missionaries, Herbert Lord, pleaded for mercy, “These people will die if they have to march”” But the commanding officer said, “Then let them march until they die. This is a military order.”
The commander of the marching line, “The Tiger,” knew about the conditions of his prisoners. Some of them were even sick. One of the Carmelite nuns was blind. But he did not allow one to fall out from the march. When some prisoners fell out, the American officer in charge of the group was executed. In order to bring peace to the hellish atmosphere of the march on a cold and snowy November, Bishop Byrne passed the word down the line that he would give a General Absolution to all Catholics. All of them feared death. During nights, the prisoners stayed in open fields or were crowded in buildings. Some of them even died in the buildings in a standing position. Tiger told them that they were to be brought to government hospitals, which did not happen.
The guards separated the women from the men, promising that they would be provided transportation. But when the men left, the guards ordered the women to start walking. An eighty-two-year-old nun, Mother Beatrix, could no longer walk. She was left behind in the cold to die. One nun, Mother Eugenie, tried to stay with Mother Beatrix, but Mother Beatrix told her, “Go, my sister, go.” As the march resumed, a few gunshots were heard. Mother Beatrix was not seen again.
Dozens began dying per day. Some were killed on the road. One priest, Fr. Paul Villemot, died of starvation. Toothless and unable to eat the corn given to him, he died after five days. An Anglican nun, Sr. Mary Clare, died of starvation. A Carmelite nun wrote of what happened:
“This morning we found our dear Sister Mary Clare, an Anglican Religious, sixty-years old, dead on her bed of straw. A person of deep Christian charity, she helped us in times of distress. We loved her very much. She shared with us the unbearable life in camp, and now she had finished her bitter Calvary. May she rest in the peace of the Lord!
“With her companions who helped her so much on the forced march, we prepared her body for burial. Preceded by our guard; her friends; Sister Bernadette (a Carmelite) and myself, we carried her, the five us, on an improvised bier to the top of a neighbouring hill, quite close to the camp. We ourselves dug her grave, only so deep as our failing strength allowed, and we laid her down there, showing a sisterly reverence. Then, after the last prayer, we covered this poor body with a little earth and stones. With bits of wood we made a cross, and placed this sign of Redemption on her tomb.”
Within a few days, more and more missionaries died. Bishop Patrick Byrne, who was terribly sick, was moved into a hut with other infected prisoners to isolate them from the others. Bishop Burne died peacefully. The regular toll of death also took toll on the survivors as well.
The survivors of the march were brought into a camp, where the indoctrinations continued. Their health gradually improved and they became accustomed to camp life. The Carmelite sisters resumed their ministry to the suffering and encouraged each other. Finally, after three years, they were expatriated. The missionaries prayed for the salvation of their captors.

She was our mother (Cleusa Carolina Rody Coelho)

In 1979, Sr. Cleusa Carolina Rody Coelho, a Recollect Augustinian nun, was sent to Labrea, in the Amazon, to be the directress of the St. Rita College. There, she developed a friendship with the poor Indians, who were abused by landowners. Out of love for them, Sr. Cleusa asked to leave the school in order to work with the indigenous. She defended the Indians from persecution. Because of this, many wanted her silenced. The police were angered with the nun because she works for the release of innocent imprisoned Indians. They wanted to kill her.
In April, 1985, a non-Indian entered the land of the Indians to collect woods. Agustin, an Indian, reported this to the FUNAI (a foundation which promotes the rights of the Indians). So, the woods collected by Damasio, the non-Indian, were confiscated and the other Indians were allowed to collect wood. So as an act of revenge, Raimundo Povidem, an Indian who was with Damasio, killed Agustin’s son and daughter.
When Sr. Cleusa learned of the news, she decided to go to Agustin to comfort him and prevent more bloodshed. The other sisters tried to stop Sr. Cleusa because of the dangers attached to her decision, but she decided to go.
When Sr. Cleusa arrived in Japiim, the place where Agustin lived, she advised Agustin to stay and remain calm, because she will report the incident in Labrea. So, she and a companion returned to Labrea by boat. While on their way, they were stopped by Raimundo Povidem. A year before, Sr. Cleusa took care of Povidem because he was ill.
When Sr. Cleusa recognized Povidem, she asked him to talk. But he shot Sr. Cleusa’s Indian companion, who fell and was wounded. Sr. Cleusa told him to flee, because he still has a wife and children to take care of. He fled to the forest, where he spent the night. Then, he went to the missionaries and told them of the incident. A search party was made, and Sr. Cleusa’s body was found on May 3, by the river bank.
The missionaries first noticed a flock of vultures in a bush near the river. So, they followed the vultures and saw Sr. Cleusa’s body. The autopsy revealed that Sr. Cleusa suffered beatings before she was shot to death. Her right arm was never found again. Sr. Cleusa was buried immediately. In her funeral, an Indian woman mourned, “Who will take care of us now? She was our mother!”

Pastor Romulo Saune

Romulo Saune was a popular preacher in Peru. He translated the Holy Bible into the Quechua language for the Peruvian aborigines. Before his martyrdom, he visited his hometown, where his grandfather, Pastor Justiniano Quicana, was murdered by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) rebels, an armed group of Marxist terrorists. There, they celebrated the anniversary of the Church. Then, he returned home with other members of the congregation.
The Sendero Luminoso rebels stopped the bus where Pastor Romulo Saune and his fellow Church workers were riding. The terrorists waved their guns at the Church workers and commanded them to get out of the vehicle.
Pastor Saune reacted quickly. He boldly told the rebels, “God loves you and I love you. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. Even now, God is willing to forgive your sins because He loves you. The blood of the Lord Jesus can clean and purify your souls.”
The Marxist rebels listened to the Gospel, being presented by the Pastor. But they were interrupted by their leader, who told the Christians, “You are guilty of fooling people with your religion. Today, you are being judged.” Then, he opened fire on them, killing four of them. Pastor Saune died saying, “God, I love you! Jesus, I love you!”
A friend of his said, “He was very young to die, but in his short life he achieved so much for God and his work must have been finished when God called him home.” Romulo was only thirty-nine. Three months before his death, he received an award from the World Evangelical Fellowship.
Pastor Saune’s martyrdom spurred Peruvian Quechua Christians top new heights of faithfulness. Church growth is expected to continue after his death.

Four American Missionary-Martyrs of El Salvador

In December, 1981, four American missionaries were murdered by the El Salvadoran death squad. Three of them were nuns, and one is a laywoman who volunteered to work in El Salvador as a missionary. One of the nuns, Sr. Ita Ford, was the niece of Bishop Francis Xavier Ford, who was killed by the Communists in China.
All four missionaries were engaged in medical and relief work, often distributing aid from USAIF and Catholic charitable organizations. In regions with very few priests, they organized prayer meetings and administered the Sacraments in appropriate ways. They also raised the consciousness of the people and taught them about justice and their rights. In a letter to her friend, Sr. Dorothy Kazel wrote, “I was especially impressed with what you had to say about the ‘middle class nature of US nuns’ work’ - and how important it is to serve the poor and oppressed. I believe that wholeheartedly - that's why I'm here in El Salvador.”
They were horrified with the murders and mutilations they met daily. One of the nuns, Sr. Maura Clarke, wrote, “My fear of death is being challenged constantly as children, lovely young girls, old people are being shot and some cut up with machetes and bodies thrown by the road and people prohibited from burying them. A loving Father must have a new life of unimaginable joy and peace prepared for these precious unknown, uncelebrated martyrs.”
Even though she was horrified by the situation, Sr. Clarke decided to stay in El Salvador. “I want to stay on now,” she wrote. “I believe now that this is right...Here I am starting from scratch but it must be His plan and He is teaching me and there is real peace in spite of many frustrations and the terror around us and the work, etc. God is very present in His seeming absence.”
Jean Donovan, the 27-year-old lay missionary, wrote to her friend weeks before she was killed, “Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could except for the children, the poor bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” Jean's time in El Salvador led her to those fundamental challenges of the meaning of life, of faith, in a world torn by injustice and violence against the poorest, the most vulnerable. It was a personal challenge.
The four missionaries informed the military authorities about their missionary work to avoid any misunderstandings. They made it clear that they were in El Salvador to help everyone, whatever their faction or political affiliation may be. But they were told that the Catholic Church was “indirectly subversive because it’s on the side of the weak.”
On December 2, 1980, Srs. Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan picked up Srs. Ita Ford and Maura Clarke in the airport, who just came from Nicaragua after an assemble for Maryknoll missionaries. After leaving the airport, their van was commandeered at a road block by members of El Salvador's National Guard. They were taken to an isolated location, abused and shot, then buried in a shallow grave along a roadside.
The missionaries also knew what they are about to face. Sr. Ita Ford read a message which Archbishop Oscar Romero said about Christian life in El Salvador, “Christ invites us not to fear persecution because, believe me, brothers and sisters, the one who is committed to the poor must run the same fate as the poor, and in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, be tortured, to be held captive - and to be found dead.”

Reaching the Unreached (Five Protestant Missionaries)

In the dense rain-forests of Ecuador, on the Pacific side of the Andes Mountains, lives a tribe of Indians who call themselves the Huaorani ("people" in their language, Huao), but whose neighbors have called them the Aucas ("savages" in Quechua). For many generations they have been completely isolated from the outside world, disposed to kill any stranger on sight, and feared even by their head-hunting neighbors, the Jivaro tribe. In 1955, four missionaries from the United States who were working with the Quechas, Jivaros, and other Indians of the interior of Ecuador became persuaded that they were being called to preach the Gospel to the Huaorani as well.
The five missionaries have been wondering how they could reach the unreached Aucas. The missionaries learned the Auca language through Dayuma, a girl who fled from the tribe after her father was killed by a rival tribe. They also studied maps and waited for the proper time to reach the Aucas. On October 2, 1955, Nate Saint wrote, “We decided it was the Lord’s time.” The mission was about to start.
The missionaries would fly with their plane over the Auca settlement and send gifts to the people. Calling through a loudspeaker, Nate Saint, one of the missionaries, would shout out in the Auca language, “We like you! We like you! We have come to visit you!”
After three months of air-to-ground contact, during which they made far more progress than they had hoped, the missionaries decided that it was time for ground contact. They located a beach that would serve as a landing strip, about four miles from the village, and decided to go in on Tuesday 3 January 1956. After some discussion, they decided to carry guns, having heard that the Huaorani never attacked anyone who was carrying a gun, and having resolved that they would, as a last resort, fire the guns into the air to ward off an attack, but would shoot no-one, even to save their own lives.
That Tuesday, the missionaries went to the Auca settlement and had some friendly Auca visitors. On Saturday, no one showed, and when the plane flew over the village, the Huaorani seemed frightened at first, but lost their fright when presents were dropped. On Sunday, the missionaries were never heard of again. Their families feared the worse for them. A search party was made by Wycliffe missionaries. To their surprise, the bodies of the missionaries were seen floating on the river. They were speared to death.
Why did the Huaorani suddenly turn hostile? Much later, one of the Huaorani who had helped to kill the five martyrs explained that the tribe, who had had almost no contact with outsiders that did not involve killing or attempted killing on one side or another, wondered why the whites wanted to make contact with them; and while they wanted to believe that their visitors were friendly, they feared a trap. After the killings, they realized their mistake. When they were attacked, one of the missionaries fired two shots as warnings, and one shot grazed a Huaorani who was hiding in the brush, unknown to the missionaries. It was therefore clear that the visitors had weapons, were capable of killing, and had chosen not to do so. Thus, the Huaorani realized that the visitors were indeed their friends, willing to die for them if necessary. When in subsequent months they heard the message that the Son of God had come down from heaven to reconcile men with God, and to die in order to bring about that reconciliation, they recognized that the message of the missionaries was the basis of what they had seen enacted in the lives of the missionaries. They believed the Gospel preached because they had seen the Gospel lived.
Dayuma, the girl who taught the missionaries about the Auca language, returned to her tribe. She told her family who welcomed her, “Just as you killed the five men on the beach, Jesus was killed for you.” The families of the martyred missionaries came to the Auca settlement and made friends with the murderers of the missionaries. They told them about Christ, and they accepted Him as their saviour. One of the Auca killers even baptized Nate Saint’s son and daughter. Tona, one of the killers, volunteered to be a missionary. He was killed by members of the other tribe, and he became the first Auca martyr. Before being killed, he said to his murderer, “I forgive you. This is for your benefit.”
Months after the martyrdom of the missionaries, Protestant Mission Societies were flooded with young people who volunteer to take the place of the martyred missionaries and work in the Ecuadoran jungle.

Greatest Protestant martyr of the Twentieth Century (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor of the Confessing Church in Germany, returned to Germany after staying for a while in New York to serve as a pastor among the German émigrés. His friends in New York advised him not to leave, but he persisted. While on the ship aboard for Germany, he wrote, “I. . . made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period of our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”
Ever since the beginning of Nazism, Bonhoeffer was already taking a hard line against the new Reich. He was involved in setting up the Protestant Confessing Church, which was a Church subversive to Nazism’s anti-Christian doctrines. When He returned to Germany, he headed an illegal seminary for Confessing Church pastors. The Gestapo also banned him from preaching; then teaching; and finally any kind of public speaking. Bonhoeffer also led the Confessing Church in protesting against the Nazi’s treatment against the Jews.
During this time, Bonhoeffer worked closely with numerous opponents of Adolf Hitler. Many of his friends in the resistance are plotting to assassinate Hitler, but Bonhoeffer refused to participate with them. He said, “I can never again serve as a pastor if I am to participate.” The plan didn’t succeed, just like the other plans on Hitler’s life. In the meantime, Bonhoeffer was helping Jews escape into Switzerland.
On April 5, 1943, the Gestapo came to Bonhoeffer’s house. They said, “Come with us,” and took Bonhoeffer with them away in a car. He was imprisoned in Tegel Military prison. He was kept there for six months before his arrest warrant was delivered. Many more attempts against Hitler’s life sprung up, but Bonhoeffer was not involved in any of it. His brother and two brothers-in-law were also imprisoned, accused of collaborating with the plot against Hitler’s life.
One morning, Bonhoeffer and other prisoners were herded into a van and driven towards the southeast. Unknown to the prisoners, they were all going to be condemned to death. The next Sunday, on April 8, Bonhoeffer held a brief worship service in a schoolhouse. After the service, they were taken to Flossenberg and condemned to death. Bonhoeffer spent the whole night in prayer and preparation for his death, which would come about the following day.
The next day, Bonhoeffer and his companions were stripped of their clothes and forced to walk up to the gallows, where they were hanged. Weeks after his death, the war ended.

Do not touch the sisters and the children (Elise Rivet)

Elise Rivet, or Mother Elisabeth of the Eucharist in religion, was the superior general of the Sisters of Saint Elisabeth congregation in France. When France was defeated in the war, Mother Elisabeth engaged in the actions of the resistance movement in France. She agreed to hide the weapons of the resistance fighters in their convent. She also sheltered Jewish women and children with the help of Cardinal Gerlier. The Jewish women were given religious habits to conceal their Jewish identities.
In 1944, she was denounced to the Gestapo under suspicion of hiding weapons. When the Gestapo came to the convent to conduct a search, Mother Elisabeth only said to them, “Do not touch the sisters and the children.” The Gestapo found the hidden arms quickly. Fortunately, the other nuns hid Mother Elisabeth’s notebook, where her contacts with the resistance fighters are written.
Mother Elisabeth, together with another nun, Mother Marie of Jesus, were arrested and imprisoned in Fort Montluc in Lyons. From there she was taken to Ravensbrück on July 28, 1944. Mother Elisabeth, who was too weak for heavy labor, was sent to work with the knitting machines. She protected her fellow prisoners from abuse and maintained their dignity. She recited the rosary everyday and prays every Sunday prayers said during Mass. Once, a nurse gave her good food. Mother Elisabeth shared the food together with her fellow prisoners.
On March 26, 1945, Mother Elisabeth was sent to Uckermark, a place where those who were marked for death were sent. On March 30, on Good Friday, she volunteered to go to the gas chamber in the place of a mother.

The White Rose Martyrs

Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell, medical students of different religions, were introduced to each other in the fall of 1940. Scholl was a Protestant while Schmorell was Orthodox. The two young men shared their interests together. Then, they realized that they both shared disgust against Hitler, the Nazis and the Reich. The two young men were soon joined by Sophie Scholl, Hans’ younger sister, Christoph Probst, a married student, and Willi Graf, a devout Catholic. Professor Kurt Huber, their professor in philosophy, joined them too.
Hans and Alex wrote the first two leaflets of the new organization. The leaflets were signed with a “White Rose”. The leaflets criticized a regular German who just sat back and did nothing to combat the Nazi regime. After the two leaflets, three more leaflets were made, with a more striking message. Here are some quotes from their leaflets:
“Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself as best he can at this late hour, he must work against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism.”
“Every word that comes from Hitler's mouth is a lie. When he says peace, he means war, and when he blasphemously uses the name of the Almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan.”
“Is your spirit already so crushed by abuse that you forget it is your right - or rather, your moral duty - to eliminate this system”
“We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!”
In each of the leaflets, the White Rose members write, “Support the resistance! Distribute the leaflets!”
The White Rose members have to work in secret and made their activities oblivious even to their own families. They worked day and night duplicating the leaflets and sent the leaflets to chosen families seen in a telephone directory.
In early February, Hans, Alex and Christoph painted slogans near their school, the University of Munich, with the message “Down with Hitler!” This was the most dangerous activity of the White Rose.
On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie brought a suitcase of leaflets written by Professor Huber. worked quickly, dropping stacks of Kurt Huber's leaflets throughout the corridors. With time running out, the brother and sister hurried outside to safety. When they realized that a few more leaflets are left in the suitcase, Sophie climbed the grand marble staircase to the upper level of the hall and threw the remaining leaflets high into the air. The school janitor, a member of the Nazi party, saw this and called the Gestapo. The doors were locked and the Scholls were arrested.
Christoph Probst was arrested at the same time the Scholls were arrested. He was arrested while asking for permission from the army to visit his wife and new-born baby. The draft of Christoph's leaflet was found in Hans Scholl's pocket and, though Hans insisted he was given the draft by a stranger, the handwriting was matched to a letter from Christoph in the Scholl's apartment.
The Scholls and Probst stayed in prison for four days. During interrogation, Sophie was recorded to have said, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did.” The three were found guilty and were guillotined a few hours later on February 22, 1943. Before their execution, Christoph Probst was baptized into the Catholic faith by a priest in prison. The executioners noted Sophie, who walked with courage to the guillotine. Before being killed, she told her executioners, “Your heads will roll too.”
After the arrest of the Scholls, a warrant of arrest had been made for Alex Schmorell. All his efforts to escape failed. He was arrested in an air raid shelter on February 24, 1943, when he was recognized. Professor Huber was arrested three days later. After his arrest, the University stripped him of his doctorate and his professorship. In trial, Professor Huber defended the members of the White Rose despite humiliations. The two were executed by the guillotine on July 13, 1943.
Willi Graf was arrested in his apartment with his sister in his apartment on the day Hans and Sophie were arrested. After months of Gestapo interrogations in a futile attempt to obtain the names of the co-conspirators, Willi Graf was executed by guillotine on October 12, 1943. In the farewell letter to his sister he had the following message to his friends, "They shall continue what we have begun."
The White Rose martyrs were considered as good models for the youth in World Youth Day, 2005. Monsignor Helmut Moll of Cologne said that if he would choose a model for the World Youth Day, “I would choose the White Rose youths — Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic students of Munich who, in 1942, fought to defend the dignity of man and religion in face of Nazism.” He added, “Our society is poor in Christian models; therefore, as the Pope has said, we need figures who are an example of faith, hope and charity. These martyrs are real models of faith who have something to say to all our young people.”

I lived for Christ and I'll die for Christ (Restituta Kafka)

One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison. One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison. She said, “I lived for Christ, and I’ll die for Christ.”
After a year of trying to break this unbreakable woman, Martin Bormann, Hitler's own secretary, decided that it was necessary not only to punish Sister Kafka, but to make an example of her and show others that disobedience would not be tolerated. On October 28, 1942 she was sentenced to death by guillotine for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.” On hearing her death sentence, One of the first steps the Nazis took when they annexed Austria was to close over 1400 establishments that were under religious control. More than 200 convents were suppressed, all Catholic societies and youth organizations were disbanded, and numerous charitable institutions were seized. Sister Restituta Kafka, a nursing nun, was allowed to continue her work, but her hospital was put under the control of personnel loyal to the new government.
Sr. Restituta, a nun as well as an anaesthetist, had always carefully attended to the spiritual needs of her patients. Although religious acts were now forbidden in the hospital wards, she continued to pray, at least privately, with the sick, and see that they secretly received the last rites. The surgeon with whom she worked in the operating room was a fanatical Nazi, but he depended so much on her that at first he kept quiet about her forbidden religious interventions.
Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler “a madman” and said of herself, “A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut.”
Not long afterward, however, when a new hospital wing was opened, Sister Kafka made bold to hang crucifixes in the rooms. She was also discovered making a copy of an anti-Fascist song. The surgeon now decided it was his patriotic duty to report her to the Gestapo. As a result, on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1942, a group of SS storm troopers came to the hospital and arrested her. She refused to replace the crucifixes with pictures of Hitler, saying the Jesus is her only “Fuhrer.”
Sister Restituta was imprisoned for a year, but imprisonment did not change her character or her firmness. Although the food allowed her was meager, she gave most of it to others. Thus she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her baby. She remained faithful in prison.
After a year of trying to break this unbreakable woman, Martin Bormann, Hitler's own secretary, decided that it was necessary not only to punish Sister Kafka, but to make an example of her and show others that disobedience would not be tolerated. On October 28, 1942 she was sentenced to death by guillotine for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.” On hearing her death sentence, she said, "I lived for Christ, and I'll die for Christ."
She was later offered her freedom if she would leave her religious congregation, but she refused. When asked to commute her sentence, Martin Bormann expressly rejected the request, saying, “I think the execution of the death penalty is necessary for effective intimidation.”
A chaplain was allowed to attend Sister Kafka to the door of the chamber of execution but no farther. He reported hearing the swish and thud of the sharp steel down its tracks. She was the only nun to be sent to the guillotine by the Nazis in the German territories.