Friday, July 07, 2006

Jesus, I offer my life for his (Zdenka Schellingova)

When the Communist regime began in Slovakia, all convents were suppressed and it became illegal to wear a religious habit. Nuns were sent to hard work. The provincial superior of the Holy Cross Sisters asks sisters to comply with the authorities and offer no resistance. One of the nuns was Sr. Zdenka Schelingova, who worked as a nurse in the Bratislava Government Hospital.
During those times, many prisoners were sent to the hospital, including priests. On her own initiative, Sr. Zdenka risks giving aid to prisoners who are placed in the Bratislava government hospital, including several priests and a lawyer imprisoned for subversive activities. She helps with preparation of documents needed to escape. Later she admitted she was collaborating with others to help at least five priests escape certain death. Sr. Zdenka talked to one of those priests. The priest was ill and would be sent to Siberia after his health was restored to be killed. And so she acted at the risk of her own life: she slipped sleeping pills into the guard's tea, allowing the priest to escape. After he was free, Sr Zdenka went into the chapel and prayed, “Jesus, I offer my life for his. Save him!” She contacted other people who could help him escape by crossing the Danube.
Some days later, however, on 29 February 1952, when she tried to help three priests and three seminarians escape, her plan backfired and she was arrested. She was interrogated and suffered many humilations, including being brutally tortured by the police. She finally received a sentence of 12 years in prison and 10 years of civil rights' deprivation. The torture that she underwent left her body mutilated. Sr. Zdenka is diagnosed with breast cancer, has amputation of one breast without anesthetic or follow-up medical treatment
From 1952 until 1955 Sr Zdenka was transferred from one prison to another. She accepted torture and mistreatment with great humility; most difficult of all for her, however, was being deprived of the Holy Sacraments for the three years of her imprisonment.
On 16 April 1955, Sr Zdenka was released from prison by the President of the Republic so she would not die there (she had a malignant tumor in her right breast). When she returned to her congregation's motherhouse in Bratislava, she was not accepted because of the general situation of fear that existed at the time as well as the constant police surveillance; nor was she received in the hospital of Bratislava. Instead, a friend from Trnava took her in. Sr Zdenka was eventually accepted into the hospital of Trnava. On 31 July 1955, after receiving the Sacraments, Sr Zdenka died. She was 38 years old and is remembered as a true martyr of the faith. The police who tortured her later repented for his being merciless to the nun.


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