Wherein Fr. Z is moved to pray to martyred nuns, newly discovered, about something that happened today. – UPDATED

UPDATE 20 Jan 2020

I received this nice note today:

I cannot tell you why you were drawn to our martyred sisters, but I can tell you this: The order suddenly has an influx of vocations and discerners particularly in Ghana, Poland, the Philippines, and the USA. One of them is me. [Hurray!] At least two of us in our pre-novitiate formation (stateside) have found ourselves here to our own great surprise, feeling sure that the call of Christ led us to this order, but not knowing why.

I read your post on our sisters, and immediately went to the chapel where we have a little reliquary for Bl. M. Stella and Comps. I particularly brought prayers for you and your intentions both to the martyrs and our foundress.

Pray for us. I pray for you.
Bl. M. Stella and Comps., pray for us
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, protect us.

Do hear an “Amen!”?

Perhaps on a future visit to Chicago, I’ll stop and visit that chapel, if permitted.

___ Originally Published on: Jan 18, 2020

I am moved to post this.

It is as if I was dragged for some reason back to my keyboard tonight, after having tried to turn in. A couple of clicks – you know how one thing leads to another – and suddenly I was staring at exactly what I knew I was supposed to be looking at, something I had not know about.

A striking image of nuns being martyred at the hands of soldiers by an open grave.

Blessed M. Stella and her Ten Companions, the The Martyrs of Nowogrodek, in Nazi occupied Poland in 1943.  Now Belarus.  They were beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2000.  They were Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Their story is powerful. Wiki HERE, more HERE. These sisters had heard that Jews in the village had been taken to be killed. They prayed and offered themselves to God in exchange. The Jews were sent to work camps. The Gestapo then went for the local priest. Again the sisters prayed, saying, “There is a greater need for a priest on this earth than for us. We pray that God will take us in his place, if sacrifice of life is needed.”

Their prayers were answered.

How very small I felt as I read that.

One of the sisters survived, at the command of her superior, in lay guise.   She found her sister’s grave and marked a tree.  Years later she was free to tell her story.    HERE

I just learned that there is a house of those sisters not too far to the south of me, in Des Plaines, IL (Chicago).  They look at bit modernized, alas.   Alas, they are LCWR members.  I hope that they will be blessed with some young vocations who have traditional religious aspirations and longevity.

Why, I wonder, was I dragged to learn of these beautiful martyrs tonight, of all nights, the Martyrs of Nowogrodek?

I will, tonight at least, ask these blessed sisters to intercede before God for that #UniteTheClans idea that Michael Matt had some time ago, and which I fully endorsed and desire, even as I see an attack on myself on Twitter from one of the very people I pray will relent.

My day began by writing on that initiative.  So, I suppose I should round out my day with that same thought, but hand it over, for tonight, to the Eleven Martyred Sisters of Nowogrodek.  I am minded of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne martyred in 1794.  “Mother, permission to die?”  The Terror ended right after their martyrdom.

During his sermon for the beatification of the Eleven, John Paul II said: “Where did these women find the strength to give themselves in exchange for the lives of imprisoned residents of Nowogródek? From where did they draw the courage to accept calmly the death sentence that was so cruel and unjust?” HERE

Our battle for the Church in these troubled time, The Present Crisis, has to be fought on many levels.

What might not be wrought through the intercession of these Eleven Sisters?

The artwork for the Beatification image painted by Jerzy Kumala (1998).

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Modern Martyrs, Saints: Stories & Symbols, Women Religious and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Spinmamma says:

    Thank you for this post. The second link especially has detailed information about each sister, some of which I am sure came from the memory of the surviving sister. As always when I read of the saints (almost daily) I pray that we might have the courage and faith to take such a stand if we are brought to that point. And, if not, to have the courage and faith, in our own circumstances, to speak up for our Lord, who is truth, and for Holy Mother Church. You, Father Z, are a constant example for us of how to do that.

  2. Gab says:

    “What might not be wrought through the intercession of these Eleven Sisters?”
    Dear Father Z, a very moving post. Thank you.

    Father, could you write a prayer for us asking for their intercession for the Church, please?

  3. Pingback: Join Fr Z in prayer to the martyred nuns of Nowogródek | Catholicism Pure & Simple

  4. Cy says:

    Rorate Caeli ‘prints’ an insightful view about the confusion of these times:

    Holy Sisters of Nowogrodek, pray for us.

  5. srose says:

    This was information I did not know and am glad to find out. My aunt by marriage, Polish and from Chicago, was a nun of this order and had entered it way back in the 1940’s when the full habit was worn. Her name was Sister Mary Caritas and she taught kids in a school the nuns ran in Illinois. Later, during Pope John Paul’s papacy, she was was transferred to Rome to help with domestic chores. She spoke Polish and was very practical and very devout and often served the Pope at table. But she never told me about the martyrs of her order! Very moving.

  6. Kukla65th says:

    Fr Z: their order has long been one of the major presences of teaching and nursing sisters in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. They conduct Holy Family University, as well as a girls high school academy and Nazareth Hospital. Please pray for them. They remain true to their traditional charism here.

  7. mjd says:

    The Sisters of the Holy Family in Grand Prairie, TX wear habits and are conservative. Some of the Nuns are from Poland.
    I’ve asked for their intercession. Liturgical Memorial is Sept. 4.
    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.

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  9. bobbird says:

    By sheer “coincidence”, as I fell asleep that very same night, for absolutely no reason I was thinking about the heroic nuns of Compiegne and the quote, “Permission to die, Mother?” Now I see it was a Gift. I’m a history teacher and I make sure to mention these nuns at the local secular community college level when I teach the French Revolution, as a way to demonstrate how radical evil eventually becomes. Oh, and how a transcendent sacrifice may alter history better than any battle.

  10. Diana says:

    wow. that update brought tears to my eyes. Praise God.

  11. grondelski says:

    Wrote about them last year: For your reference


  12. khouri says:

    The Sisters in TX remain in modified habits, have public devotions to the Virgin, offer vocational discernment and are obviously in the love with the Lord and the Catholic Church.
    As with some Communities the leadership is in love with anti church but not all the members are infected with this contagion.

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