The group of Elizabethan martyr-sisters is headed by the youngest of them, Blessed Sister Maria Paschalis (Maria Magdalena) Jahn. She was born on April 7, 1916, the eldest of four children. Three days after her birth, she was baptized in her parish church of St. John the Baptist in Nysa, Silesia.
On March 30, 1938, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth. After her first religious profession in 1939, she was sent to the Congregations’ house in Kluczbork and two years later to Głubczyce. From April 1942, she stayed in St. Elizabeth’s House in Nysa, where she worked as a cook and ministered to elderly and sick sisters.
With the advance of the Red Army in March 1945, she left the city with another nun at the request of her superior. They reached Velké Losiny and then Sobotina (in the present-day Czech Republic), where they found shelter in a school. They served in a local church and rectory, and helped to nurse the sick and elderly.
On May 11, 1945, Sister Maria Paschalis was confronted by a Soviet soldier who threatened to kill her if she did not submit to him. She resisted bravely, but seeing that she could not defend herself, she knelt, held the cross from her rosary in her hand, and said firmly: “I wear a sacred dress [habit] and I will never go with you.”
On hearing these words, her assailant threatened her again. She responded: “I belong to Christ, He is my Bridegroom, I don’t care if you shoot me.”
Then she knelt and prayed “My Jesus, give me strength,” and asked those around her for forgiveness. After a moment’s silence, a gunshot put an end to her earthly life.
She was buried in the local cemetery in Sobotina in the presence of the clergy, sisters of St. Elizabeth, and numerous faithful. Since the moment of her death, she has been held up as a model of chastity for young people.
Read the remaining nine harrowing and inspiring stories here. Though be warned; they often make for hard reading.
Holy Elizabethan Martyrs of Poland, pray for us.