Tag Archives: Martyrs of Nowogrodek

Blessed Mary Stella and Companions

CSFN nuns in Corpus Christi procession NowoToday is the feast day of Blessed Mary Stella and her ten companions. Members of the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is a day to recall the supreme witness of love and patience and virtue. We honor the lives and the love shared by the Blessed Martyred Sisters of Nowogrodek who were executed by the Nazis on August 1, 1943, and beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on March 5, 2000.

Through their sacrifice of love, the lives of many were spared.

We remember:
Sr. Maria Stella (Adelaide) Mardosewicz, superior, 1888-1943
Sr. Mary Imelda (Jadwiga) Zak, 1892-1943
Sr. Mary Rajmunda (Anna) Kukolowicz, 1892-1943
Sr. Maria Daniela (Eleanor) Jozwik, 1895-1943
Sr. Maria Kanuta (Jozefa) Chrobot, 1896-1943
Sr. Maria Gwidona (Helena) Cierpka, 1900-1943
Sr. Maria Sergia (Julia) Rapiej, 1900-1943
Sr. Maria Kanizja (Eugenia) Mackiewicz, 1904-1943
Sr. Maria Felicyta (Paulina Borowik) 1905-1943
Sr. Maria Heliodora (Leokadia) Matuszewska, 1906-1943
Sr. Maria Boromea (Veronika) Narmontowicz, 1916-1943

Photo (undated) shows some of the sisters during a Corpus Christi procession in Nowogrodek.

Blessed Mary Stella and Companions, Martyrs of Nowogrodek

Eleven Nuns of NowogrodekToday is also a  day on which I recall the witness of the eleven courageous and holy Nazareth Sisters, who in 1943 sacrificed their lives for family members during World War II in Belarus.

As a boy in a New Haven school staffed by the Nazareth Sisters, St. Stanislaus School, I distinctly remember the Adam Styka image  (1948) painted of the nuns being murdered by the Nazi regime.  The original painting was moved to the Rome headquarters of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1965.

Each falling into a common grave. Though their mortal identity was robbed by a common grace, but their dignity as woman of grace and Divine Love not. Keeping their memory alive means remembering the names of those killed. The sisters’ names were: M. Stella, M. Imelda, M. Rajmunda, M. Daniela, M. Kanuta, M. Sergia, M. Gwidona, M. Felicyta, M. Heliodora, M. Kanizja and M. Boromea.

In the days before the great feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration on August 6th, it is interesting to note that these sisters had received a tremendous outpouring of affection from their fellow townspeople. The sisters were known as “The Kneelers” because they frequented the local parish Church of The Transfiguration to kneel in prayer at the left side of the altar in prayer.

Sister Mary Stella prayed: “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.”

Saint John Paul II said of Sister Mary Stella, “By the power of His grace, these seemingly weak women witnessed to the strength of true love to the point of martyrdom” (March 5, 2000).

The 12th sister of the group, Sister Malgorzata Banas, who survived the war and the sisters’ chaplain Father Aleksander Sienkiewicz are also candidates for sainthood.

Through the intercession of Blessed Mary Stella and her Ten Companions, Martyrs of Nowogrodek, let us pray for the grace of perseverance in faith and courage.

The liturgical memorial falls on September 4.

Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek, the 70th anniversary of their murder

Martyrs of NowogrodekA group of eleven Sisters of he Holy Family of Nazareth  were murdered by the Nazis in exchange for 120 condemned citizens of Nowogródek, current day Belarus.

Sister Stella and her companions were murdered on this date, 1 August 1943 by the Gestapo in Novogródek, Hrodzyenskaya voblasts’, Belarus.

Invited by the bishop of the area to come serve the Church in the village of Novogródek in 1929, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth were well received by the people.

Tensions ran high with the Nazi occupation. When it became clear that the sacrifice of life was imminent, the Sisters in conversation with their chaplain, Father Zienkiewicz, said, “My God, if sacrifice if life is needed, accept it from us and spare those who have families. We are even praying for this intention.”

Blessed John Paul beatified the sisters on 5 March 2000.

The Blessed Martyrs are stilled remembered with devotion.

Blessed Sisters of Nowogrodek: Blessed Stella & companions

O most blessed Trinity, we praise and thank you for the example of Blessed Mary Stella and her ten companions, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who by imitating Jesus Christ, offered themselves as a
sacrifice of love.

God of mercy and compassion, through the merits of their martyrdom and by their intercession, grant us the grace we humbly ask… (insert intention here) …so that like them, we may witness with our lives to the presence of the Kingdom of God’s love and extend it to the human family throughout the world. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Martyred Sisters of Nowogródek, pray for us.

Blessed Mary Stella and her companions were authentic martyrs for the faith: they “…paid with their blood for the charity they exercised in favor of escapees, of the wounded and the sick during the terrible and uncertain days” (His Will Alone, 424).

They had engaged life as any other person does and so I thinking giving the names of the sisters keeps memory of the women, our friends, alive in our hearts. Certainly as a kid in a Nazareth school (New Haven, CT) this image of the sisters was haunting and striking. On my desk sits the commemorative coin, a gift of Sister Thaddeus of Jesus, CSFN, with the faces and names of the sisters reminding me of the gift their lives are for us.

The eleven Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who were executed by the Nazis on August 1, 1943 were:

Sister Maria Stella, Superior (Adelaide Mardosiewicz) (1888-1943)

Sister Mary Imelda (Jadwiga Zak) (1892-1943)

Sister Mary Rajmunda (Anna Kukulowicz) (1892-1943)

Sister Maria Daniela (Eleanor Juzwik) (1895-1943)

Sister Maria Kanuta (Jozefa Chrobot) (1896-1943)

Sister Maria Gwidona (Helena Cierpka) (1900-1943)

Sister Maria Sergia (Julia Rapieg) (1900-1943)

Sister Maria Kanizja (Eugenia Mackiewicz) (1904-1943)

Sister Maria Felicyta (Paulina Borowik) (1905-1943)

Sister Maria Heliodora (Leokadia Matustzewska) (1906-1943)

Sister Maria Boromea (Veronika Narmuntowicz) (1916-1943)

The Sisters had these words in their hearts and on their lips as they gave witness to Christ and the Church: “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.”

And so we pray that Blessed Mary Stella and companions intercede for us before the the Throne of Grace for us, for the Nazareth Congregation of Sisters (especially for Sister Mary Ellen Genova) and for Poland.

N.B. In many places the martyrs of Nowogródek are remembered liturgically on the day their death, August 1st. In the convents of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth today is the liturgical memorial is prayed at Mass and in the Divine Office.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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