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The Eleven Nuns of Nowogrodek
||Adam Styka (1890-1959) a member of a distinguished family of
Polish painters, created the oil canvas of the execution, a copy of which
is reproduced here.
This painting, which dates from the spring of 1948, was transferred
to Rome, to the headquarters of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth
in 1965. A copy of it can be found in the provincial house of the
Sisters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
|Sister Maria Stella, Superior
|Sister Mary Imelda
|Sister Mary Rajmunda
|Sister Maria Daniela
|Sister Maria Kanuta
|Sister Maria Gwidona
|Sister Maria Sergia
|Sister Maria Kanizja
|Sister Maria Felicyta
|Sister Maria Heliodora
|Sister Maria Boromea
Increasingly frequent arrests during the Nazi
occupation in Poland led Sister Mary Stella, the Superior of the twelve
of the Holy Family of Nazareth at Nowogrodek, to pray in July 1943
that families in the community might receive some relief from the suffering
caused by Nazi activities. Sister Mary Stella prayed:
available through the Holy Cross Library
"O God, if sacrifice of life is needed, accept it from us who
are free from family obligations. Spare those
who have wives and children."
Without warning or provocation, on July 31,
1943, eleven of the twelve Sisters were imprisoned. The Sisters were
loaded into a van and driven beyond the town limits. On August 1,
1943 the Sisters were shot and buried in a common grave at Nowogrodek,
then on the eastern borders of Poland but now in Belarus where their
beatification of these nuns will encourage the "reborn"
The painting is the work of Adam
Styka (1890-1959), a member of a distinguished
family of Polish painters. The painting on oil canvass, which dates
from the spring of 1948, was transferred to Rome to the headquarters of
the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1965. A copy of it
can be found in the Provincial House
the Sisters in Philadelphia.
After the Sisters' execution many of
the most recently arrested men were not killed. Some were released
or sent to Germany for work. The life of the Sisters' chaplain, Father
Aleksander Zienkiewicz, was also spared during this time. Zienkiewicz later
wrote a work in Polish which was translated as No Greater Love
(Pulaski, WI: Franciscan Publishers,1968).
Two of the Sisters of the Holy
Family of Nazareth, M. Teresa Gorska and M. Noela Wojtatowicz have published,
Martyrs of Nowogrodek (Chicago: Congregation of the Sisters of
the Holy Family of Nazareth, 2000), which gives the whole story of the
martyred sisters, heroines
of the holocaust in what was Poland, with their individual pictures
and with a collection of poetry to honor them.
On September 18, 1991 the canonization process for the eleven sisters
was officially opened and, on June 28, 1999, the Zenit News Agency announced
that Pope John Paul II had proclaimed that they were martyrs. The
same pope beatified
them on with a group of thirty-three others on Sunday,
March 5, 2000. That ceremony is portrayed in these pictures taken
by Siobhan O'Neil who witnessed the beatification..
Beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square of the eleven nuns
by Pope John II.
These images taken from the personal collection of the Rev. Vincent
A. Lapomarda, S.J.
Send comments or questions to: Rev.
Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last updated February 22, 2000 Copyright
© 1997-2000, College of the Holy Cross.