Bienheureuse Marie-Restitute Kafka
Religieuse franciscaine autrichienne martyre (✝ 1943)
Franciscaine autrichienne, elle s'opposa au nazisme et refusa que les crucifix soient enlevés dans l'hôpital où se trouvaient les religieuses. En octobre 1942, elle fut arrêtée pour haute trahison, jetée en prison et condamnée à mort. Une pétition demanda sa grâce au général des S.S., Martin Bormann qui la refuse et elle fut décapitée le 30 mars 1943, après avoir demandé à l'aumônier de la prison de tracer une croix sur son front.
Voir aussi: Homélie de Jean-Paul II lors de la Messe de Béatification de Jakob Kern, Restituta Kafka et Anton Maria Schwartz (Vienne, 21 Juin 1998) [Anglais, Espagnol, Portugais]
Près de Vienne en Autriche, l’an 1943, la bienheureuse Hélène Kafka (Marie-Restituta), vierge, des Sœurs franciscaines de la Charité et martyre. Originaire de Bohême, elle était infirmière; pendant la seconde guerre mondiale quand elle fut arrêtée par le régime nazi et décapitée.
Nom de religion: Marie Restituta (Maria Restituta)
Mort: 30.03.1943 à Vienne
Etat: Religieuse - Martyre
Note: Religieuse franciscaine de la charité. Infirmière. Elle lutta contre le nazisme. Elle refusa de retirer les crucifix des chambres des malades. Arrêtée pour avoir composé un poème satirique sur Hitler. Condamnée pour haute trahison le 29.10.1942. Guillotinée à la prison de Vienne.
Béatification: 21.06.1998 à Vienne par Jean Paul II
Fête: 30 mars
Réf. dans l’Osservatore Romano : 1998 n.26 p.4
Réf. dans la Documentation Catholique : 1998 n.14 p.690
Le 21 juin 1998 Jean Paul II béatifie trois Autrichiens (Jacob Kern 2, Anton Schwartz 2 et Restituta Kafka) sur la "Place des héros" de Vienne. 60 ans auparavant en 1938 - rappelle le Pape - Hitler du balcon qui domine cette place a fait acclamer l'Anschluss (rattachement de l'Autriche à l'Allemagne) par une foule en délire de 250'000 personnes. Sur cette même "Heldenplatz", devant une foule enthousiaste de 50'000 personnes (on en attendait plus, mais l'Église d'Autriche, quoique bien vivante, traverse à ce moment-là une crise), Jean Paul II béatifie une martyre de Nazisme, Sœur Restituta Kafka. Hitler avait proclamé que le salut était en lui; les "héros selon l'Église" annoncent que le salut ne se trouve pas dans l'homme mais dans le Christ, Roi et Sauveur.
Restituta Kafka naît en 1894. Avant d'être majeure, elle exprime son intention d'entrer au couvent. Ses parents s'y opposent, mais elle ne perd pas de vue son projet: devenir sœur "par amour de Dieu et des hommes" et servir en particulier les pauvres et les malades. Les "Sœurs franciscaines de la Charité" l'accueillent, lui permettant de réaliser sa vocation dans le monde hospitalier: un engagement quotidien souvent dur et monotone. Sœur infirmière dans l'âme, elle fait bientôt figure "d'institution" à Mödling. Sa compétence, sa résolution et sa cordialité sont telles que de nombreuses personnes l'appellent Sœur Resoluta et non Sœur Restituta. Son courage et sa fermeté ne lui permettent pas de se taire face au régime national-socialiste. Elle refuse de retirer le crucifix des chambres des malades et même lorsqu'on bâtit une nouvelle aile à l'hôpital, elle y fait mettre des crucifix, prête à payer de sa vie plutôt que de renoncer à ses convictions. Effectivement, à la suite d'une perquisition chez elle, on découvre un poème satirique contre Hitler. Le mercredi des Cendre 1942, elle est arrêtée par la Gestapo. C'est alors que commence pour elle en prison un 'Calvaire' qui dure plus d'un an. Malgré de nombreux recours en grâce, elle est condamnée à mort. Conservant le crucifix dans son cœur, elle lui rend encore témoignage peu de temps avent d'être conduite au lieu de l'exécution: elle demande à l'aumônier de la prison de lui faire "le signe de la croix sur le front". Ses dernières paroles connues sont: "J'ai vécu pour le Christ, je veux mourir pour le Christ". Elle est décapitée dans la prison de Vienne le 30 mars 1943. La Gestapo prend soin que son corps ne soit pas rendu à la Communauté de peur qu'on en fasse une martyre.
"Tant de choses peuvent nous être enlevées à nous chrétiens, mais nous ne permettront à personne de nous enlever la Croix comme signe de salut - conclut le Pape - Nous ne permettrons pas qu'elle soit exclue de la vie publique". Puis s'adressant aux jeunes: "Plantez dans votre vie la Croix du Christ! La Croix est le véritable arbre de vie". Et les jeunes d'apprécier ce message avec enthousiasme.
Note d'humour: Pour fêter cette béatification, les Sœurs franciscaines ont fait brasser des bières avec l'étiquette "Restituta", rappelant ainsi qu'après chaque opération difficile, la bienheureuse se faisait servir au bistrot une chope de bière avec une goulache…
Maria Restitua, née le 1er mai 1884 à Husovice, près de Brünn (aujourd'hui Brno) en Moravie (actuellement République tchèque) et décapitée le 30 mars 1943 à Vienne est une religieuse catholique.
Son nom séculier était Hélène Kafka (ou Kafková).
En 1896, ses parents s'installent avec leurs six autres enfants à Vienne, où le père était cordonnier. Elle fut vendeuse, et en 1914, entra dans la congrégation hospitalière des Franciscaines de la Charité à Vienne. A sa profession, elle prit le nom de Marie Restituta. Elle devint infirmière anesthésiste à l'hôpital de Mödling en 1919.
Après l'Anschluss en mars 1938, elle s'opposa au régime nazi et refusa que les crucifix soient enlevés dans l'hôpital où se trouvaient les religieuses. Elle fut dénoncée comme opposante et arrêtée le Mercredi des Cendres 1942, sous le prétexte d'avoir écrit des poèmes satiriques à l'encontre d'Hitler.
Une pétition demanda sa grâce au général des S.S., Martin Bormann qui la refusa et elle fut décapitée le 30 mars 1943 à la prison de Vienne, après avoir demandé à l'aumônier de la prison de tracer une croix sur son front.
Elle fut béatifiée à Vienne par le Pape Jean-Paul II le 21 juin 1998.
Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka M (AC)
(also known as Helena Kafka)
Born at Brno, Czech Republic, May 10, 1894; died in Vienna, Austria, March 30, 1943; beatified June 21, 1998.
Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka, baptized Helena, was the sixth daughter of a shoemaker. Her family moved to Vienna, Austria, where she grew up and worked as a salesgirl, then as a nurse, which brought her into contact with the Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity (Hartmannschwestern).
Impressed by their lives, she joined the congregation in 1914 and took the name Restituta. After her novitiate, she was a surgical nurse for twenty years, during which she gained a particular reputation for her devotion to the materially and socially poor.
After the Anschluss, when Austria was united to Germany, Sister Restituta was vocal in her opposition to Nazism and Hitler, whom she called a "madman." Her first personal encounter with the Nazis occurred when she hung a crucifix in every room of a new hospital wing. The Nazis demanded that they or Sister Restituta be removed; neither were. Her community declared that Sister Restituta was irreplaceable.
The blessed nun was arrested and, on October 28, 1942, sentenced to death for "aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason" because she had hung the crucifixes and allegedly written a poem that mocked the Nazi leader. Sister Restituta was later offered her freedom in exchange for leaving the order. She refused. Martin Bormann expressly rejected the requested commutation of her sentence with the words: "I think the execution of the death penalty is necessary for effective intimidation." For the next five month, Blessed Maria Restituta tended to the needs of others in prison. On March 30, 1943, the sentence of decapitation was executed (L'Osservatore Romano English Edition).
BLESSED MARIA RESTITUTA KAFKA
Helen Kafka was born in 1894 to a shoemaker and grew up in Vienna, Austria. At the age of 20, she decided to join the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and took the name Restituta after an early Church martyr.
In 1919, she began working as a surgical nurse in Austria. When the Germans took over the country, she became a local opponent of the Nazi regime. Her conflict with them escalated after they ordered her to remove all the crucifixes she had hung up in each room of a new hospital wing.
Sister Maria Restitua refused, and was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She was sentenced to death for "aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.”
She spent the rest of her days in prison caring for other prisoners, who loved her. The Nazis offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscan sisters, but she refused. She was beheaded March 30, 1943 in Vienna, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 21, 1998.
OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
TO AUSTRIA (JUNE 19-21, 1998)
OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
TO AUSTRIA (JUNE 19-21, 1998)
BEATIFICATION OF FR JAKOB KERN,
SR RESTITUTA KAFKA AND FR ANTON MARIA SCHWARTZ
SR RESTITUTA KAFKA AND FR ANTON MARIA SCHWARTZ
HOMILY OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 21 June 1998
1. "Who do the people say I am?" (Lk 9:18).
Jesus asked his disciples this question one day as they were walking together. He also puts this question to Christians on the paths of our time: "Who do the people say I am?".
As it was 2,000 years ago in an obscure part of the then known world, so today, human opinions about Jesus are divided. Some attribute to him the gift of prophetic speech. Others consider him an extraordinary personality, an idol that attracts people. Others, again, believe he is even capable of ushering in a new era.
"But who do you say that I am?" (Lk 9:20). The question cannot be given a "neutral" answer. It requires a taking of sides and involves everyone. Today, as well, Christ is asking: you Catholics of Austria, you Christians of this country, you citizens, "who do you say that I am?".
It is a question that comes from Jesus' heart. He who opens his own heart wants the person before him not to answer with his mind alone. The question that comes from Jesus' heart must move ours: Who am I for you? What do I mean to you? Do you really know me? Are you my witnesses? Do you love me?
2. Then Peter, the disciples' spokesman, answered: "We consider you the Christ of God" (Lk 9:20). The Evangelist Matthew reports Peter's profession in greater detail: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (Mt 16:16). Today the Pope, as Successor of the Apostle Peter by the grace of God, professes on your behalf and with you: "You are the Messiah of God. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".
3. Down the centuries, there has been a continual struggle for the correct profession of faith. Thanks be to Peter, whose words have become the norm!
They should be used to measure the Church's efforts in seeking to express in time what Christ means to her. In fact, it is not enough to profess with one's lips alone. Knowledge of Scripture and Tradition is important, the study of the Catechism is valuable; but what good is all this if faith lacks deeds?
Professing Christ calls for following Christ. The correct profession of faith must be accompanied by a correct conduct of life. Orthodoxy requires orthopraxis. From the start, Jesus never concealed this demanding truth from his disciples. Actually, Peter had barely made an extraordinary profession of faith when he and the other disciples immediately heard Christ clarify what the Master was expecting of them: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9:23).
As it was in the beginning, so it is today: Jesus does not only look for people to acclaim him. He looks for people to follow him.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, whoever reflects on the history of the Church with eyes of love will discover that despite the many faults and shadows, there were and still are men and women everywhere whose lives highlight the credibility of the Gospel.
Today I am given the joy to enrol three Christians from your land among the blesseds. Each of them individually confirmed his or her profession of faith in the Messiah through personal witness of life. All three blesseds show us that "Messiah" is not only a title for Christ but also means a willingness to co-operate in the messianic work: the great become small and the weak take the lead.
It is not the heroes of the world who are speaking today in Heroes' Square, but the heroes of the Church. Sixty years ago from the balcony overlooking this square, a man proclaimed himself salvation. The new blesseds have another message. They tell us: Salvation [Heil] is not found in a man, but rather: Hail [Heil] to Christ, the King and Redeemer!
5. Jakob Kern came from a humble Viennese family of workers. The First World War tore him abruptly from his studies at the minor seminary in Hollabrunn. A serious war injury made his brief earthly life in the major seminary and the Premonstratensian monastery of Geras - as he said himself - a "Holy Week". For love of Christ he did not cling to life but consciously offered it to others. At first he wanted to become a diocesan priest. But one event made him change direction. When a Premonstratensian left the monastery to follow the Czech National Church formed after the separation from Rome which had just occurred, Jakob Kern discovered his vocation in this sad event. He wanted to atone for this religious. Jakob Kern joined the monastery of Geras in his place, and the Lord accepted his offering a "substitute".
Bl. Jakob Kern stands before us as a witness of fidelity to the priesthood. At the beginning, it was a childhood desire that he expressed in imitating the priest at the altar. Later this desire matured. The purification of pain revealed the profound meaning of his priestly vocation: to unite his own life with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and to offer it vicariously for the salvation of others.
May Bl. Jakob Kern, who was a vivacious and enthusiastic student, encourage many young men generously to accept Christ's call to the priesthood. The words he spoke then are addressed to us: "Today more than ever there is a need for authentic and holy priests. All the prayers, all the sacrifices, all the efforts and all the suffering united with a right intention become the divine seed which sooner or later will bear its fruit".
6. In Vienna 100 years ago, Fr Anton Maria Schwartz was concerned with the lot of workers. He first dedicated himself to the young apprentices in the period of their professional training. Ever mindful of his own humble origins, he felt especially close to poor workers. To help them, he founded the Congregation of Christian Workers according to the rule of St Joseph Calasanz, and it is still flourishing. He deeply longed to convert society to Christ and to renew it in him. He was sensitive to the needs of apprentices and workers, who frequently lacked support and guidance. Fr Schwartz dedicated himself to them with love and creativity, finding the ways and means to build "the first workers' church in Vienna". This humble house of God hidden among the modest dwellings, resembles the work of its founder, who filled it with life for 40 years.
Opinions on the "worker apostle" of Vienna varied. Many found his dedication exaggerated. Others felt he deserved the highest esteem. Fr Schwartz stayed faithful to himself and also took some courageous steps. His petitions for training positions for the young and a day of rest on Sunday even reached Parliament.
He leaves us a message: Do all you can to protect Sunday! Show that it cannot be a work day because it is celebrated as the Lord's day! Above all, support young people who are unemployed! Those who give today's young people an opportunity to earn their living help make it possible for tomorrow's adults to pass the meaning of life on to their children. I know that there are no easy solutions. This is why I repeat the words which guided Bl. Fr Schwarz in his many efforts: "We must pray more!".
7. Sr Restituta Kafka was not yet an adult when she expressed her intention to enter the convent. Her parents were against it, but the young girl remained faithful to her goal of becoming a sister "for the love of God and men". She wanted to serve the Lord especially in the poor and the sick. She was accepted by the Franciscan Sisters of Charity to fulfil her vocation in everyday hospital life, which was often hard and monotonous. A true nurse, she soon became an institution in Mödling. Her nursing ability, determination and warmth caused many to call her Sr Resoluta instead of Sr Restituta.
Because of her courage and fearlessness, she did not wish to be silent even in the face of the National Socialist regime. Challenging the political authority's prohibitions, Sr Restituta had crucifixes hung in all the hospital rooms. On Ash Wednesday 1942 she was taken away by the Gestapo. In prison her "Lent" began, which was to last more than a year and to end in execution. Her last words passed on to us were: "I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ".
Looking at Bl. Sr Restituta, we can see to what heights of inner maturity a person can be led by the divine hand. She risked her life for her witness to the Cross. And she kept the Cross in her heart, bearing witness to it once again before being led to execution, when she asked the prison chaplain to "make the Sign of the Cross on my forehead".
Many things can be taken from us Christians. But we will not let the Cross as a sign of salvation be taken from us. We will not let it be removed from public life! We will listen to the voice of our conscience, which says: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
8. Dear brothers and sisters, today's celebration has a particularly European tone. In addition to the distinguished President of the Republic of Austria, Mr Thomas Klestil, the Presidents of Lithuania and Romania, political leaders from home and abroad, have honoured us with their presence. I offer them my cordial greetings and through them I also greet the people they represent.
With joy for the gift of three new blesseds which we are offered today, I turn to all my brothers and sisters in the People of God who are gathered here or have joined us through radio or television. In particular, I greet the Pastor of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, and the President of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, Bishop Johann Weber, as well as my Brothers in the Episcopate who have come to Heroes' Square from near and far. Then I cannot forget the many priests and deacons, religious and pastoral assistants in the parishes and communities.
Dear young people! I extend a special greeting to you today. Your presence in such large numbers is a great joy for me. Many of you have come a long way, and not only in a geographical sense.... But now you are here: the gift of youth which life is waiting for! May the three heroes of the Church who have just been enrolled among the blesseds sustain you on your way: young Jakob Kern, who precisely through his illness won the trust of young people; Fr Anton Maria Schwartz, who knew how to touch the hearts of apprentices; Sr Restituta Kafka, who gave courageous witness to her convictions.
They were not "photocopied Christians", but each was authentic, unrepeatable and unique. They began like you: as young people, full of ideals, seeking to give meaning to their life.
Another thing makes the three blesseds so attractive: their biographies show us that their personalities matured gradually. Thus your life too has yet to become a ripe fruit. It is therefore important that you cultivate life in such a way that it can bloom and mature. Nourish it with the vital fluid of the Gospel! Offer it to Christ, the sun of salvation! Plant the Cross of Christ in your life! The Cross is the true tree of life.
9. Dear brothers and sisters! "But who do you say that I am?".
In a short time we will profess our faith. To this profession, which puts us in the community of the Apostles and of the Church's Tradition, as well as in the ranks of the saints and blesseds, we must also add our personal response. The persuasive power of the message also depends on the credibility of its messengers. Indeed, the new evangelization starts with us, with our life-style.
The Church today does not need part-time Catholics but full-blooded Christians. This is what the three new blesseds were! We can learn from them!
Thank you, Bl. Jakob Kern, for your priestly fidelity!
Thank you, Bl. Anton Maria Schwartz, for your commitment to workers!
Thank you, Sr Restituta Kafka, for swimming against the tide of the times!
All of you saints and blesseds of God, pray for us. Amen.
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
SOURCE : http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1998/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19980621_austria-beatification.html
- Helen Kafka
- Helena Kafka
- Maria Restituta Kafka
- Sister Restituta
Sixth daughter of a shoemaker. Grew up in Vienna, Austria. Worked as a sales clerk. Nurse. Joined the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity (Hartmannschwestern) in 1914, taking the name Restituta after an early Church martyr. Worked for twenty years as a surgical nurse, beginning in 1919. Known as a protector of the poor and oppressed. Vocal opponent of the Nazis after Anschluss, the German take over of Austria. Sister Restituta hung a crucifix in every room of a new hospital wing. The Nazis ordered them removed; Restituta refused. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. Sentenced to death on 28 October 1942 for “aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason”; Martin Bormann decided that her execution would provide “effective intimidation” for other opponents of the Nazis. She spent her remaining time in prison caring for other prisoners; even the Communist prisoners spoke well of her. She was offered her freedom if she would abandon her religious community; she declined. Martyr.
BL. MARIA RESTITUTA KAFKA was born in Brno (in what is now the Czech Republic) on 10 May 1894, the sixth daughter of a shoemaker, and was given the name Helena at Baptism. She grew up with her family in Vienna and was employed as a salesgirl and later as a nurse. As a nurse she came into contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity (known as the "Hartmannschwestern") and entered their congregation in 1914, taking the name of an ancient martyr, Restituta.
From 1919 she worked for 20 years as a surgical nurse and soon gained the reputation not only of a devoted and capable nurse but one who was particularly close to the poor, the persecuted and the oppressed. She even protected a Nazi doctor from arrest which she thought was unjustified.
When Hitler took over Austria, Sr Restituta made her total rejection of Nazism quite clear. She called Hitler "a madman" and said of herself: "A Viennese cannot keep her mouth shut". Her reputation spread rapidly when she hung a crucifix in every room of a new hospital wing. The Nazis demanded that the crosses be removed, threatening Sr Restituta's dismissal. The crucifixes were not removed, nor was Sr Restituta, since her community said they could not replace her. Sr Restituta was arrested and accused not only of hanging the crosses but also of having written a poem mocking Hitler.
On 28 October 1942 she was sentenced to death for "aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason". She was later offered her freedom if she would leave her religious congregation, but she refused. When asked to commute her sentence, Martin Bormann expressly rejected the request, saying: "I think the execution of the death penalty is necessary for effective intimidation.
While in prison she cared for the other prisoners, as even communist prisoners later attested. After various requests for clemency were rejected by the authorities, Sr Restituta was decapitated on 30 March 1943.
Countering the Swastika with the Cross of Christ
Relic of Blessed Restituta Kafka in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island
A strong and courageous woman. Ward sister and head nurse in an Austrian hospital, she firmly, opposed the anti-religious measures of the Nazi regime and defended the rights of the weak and the sick, speaking of peace and democracy. She was denounced by the SS, was imprisoned, condemned to death and then decapitated in Vienna on 30 March 1943, at the age of 49. She was killed together with some Communist workmen whom she managed to comfort on the eve of their death.
The sacrifice of Bl. Maria Restituta (in the world: Helen Kafka) — the only nun to be condemned to death under the National-Socialist regime and judged after a court hearing — was recently commemorated in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, celebrated on 4 March a Mass at which the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity gave to the Basilica a small cross which Maria Restituta carried on the belt of her habit. The relic was placed in the altar — which commemorates the martyrs of Nationalist-Socialism — by a woman who was born in 1941 in very the hospital where the religious served in those years. Immediately following the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II decided that the Roman Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island was to become a memorial of the "new martyrs" and witnesses of the faith from the 20th and 21st century.
Born on 1 May 1894 at Brno-Husovice, in modern day Czech Republic, of humble background, Helen Kafka grew up in the Austrian capital where she worked in the Lainz hospital with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. In 1914 she entered the convent and received the name Maria Restituta. From 1919 until 1942 she served in the hospital in Mödling, Vienna, where she became a surgical nurse and an anaesthetist, esteemed for her professional competence, beloved for her sensitivity and respected for her energetic character, so much so that she soon earned the nickname "Sister Resoluta" .
After Germany annexed Austria, the religious worked for justice and the dignity of every human being. Faced with the anti-religious suppression of the Nazis, she responded by reaffirming religious freedom and by refusing to remove the crucifixes in the hospital. She also countered Hitler's swastika with the Cross of Christ. She also spread "A soldier's song" that spoke of democracy, peace, and a free Austria. Spied on by two ladies, she was denounced by a doctor close to the SS, who for some time sought an opportunity to distance her from the hospital.
After her arrest by the Gestapo on Ash Wednesday, 18 February 1942, she was condemned to death on 29 October 1942 (the day chosen for her liturgical memorial). The sentence was carried out 30 March 1943. Before her death she asked the chaplain to make the sign of the cross on her forehead. "She was a saint because in that situation she encouraged everyone, she transmitted a power, a positive spirit and one of confidence", a fellow-prisoner later recalled.
On 21 June 1998 Restituta Kafka was beatified in Vienna, together with the servants of God, Jakob
Kern and Anton Maria Schwartz, by John Paul II, who said: "Looking at Bl. Sr Restituta, we can see to what heights of inner maturity a person can be led by the divine hand. She risked her life for her witness to the Cross. And she kept the Cross in her heart, bearing witness to it once again before being led to execution, when she asked the prison chaplain to make the Sign of the Cross on my forehead". John Paul II continued: "Many things can be taken from us Christians but the Cross as the sign of salvation will not be taken from us. We will not let it be removed from public life! We will listen to the voice of our conscience, which says: 'We must obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29)."
Bl. Maria Restituta Helen Kafka was a lady who, with a power for renewal, was able to give an example of freedom of expression and of responsibility of the individual conscience — even in difficult circumstances, animated by a virtue that is at times inconvenient: courage. "No matter how far we are from everything we are, no matter what is taken from us", the religious wrote in a letter from prison, "no one can take from us the faith we have in our heart. In this way we can build an altar in our own heart".
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A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF BLESSED MARIA RESTITUTA KAFKA
WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN (ACTS 5:29).
“A strong and courageous woman, Ward Sister and Head Nurse in an Austrian hospital, she firmly opposed the anti-religious measures of the Nazi regime and defended the rights of the weak and the sick, speaking of peace and democracy. She was denounced by the SS, was imprisoned, condemned to death and then beheaded in Vienna on the 30th March 1943, at the age of 49. She was killed together with some communist workmen whom she managed to comfort on the eve of their death.
THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY
The sacrifice of Blessed Maria Restituta (Helene Kafka) – the only nun to be condemned to death under the National-Socialist regime and judged after a court hearing – was recently commemorated in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, celebrated a Mass at which the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity gave to the Basilica a small cross which Maria Restituta carried on the belt of her habit. The relic was placed in the altar – which commemorates the martyrs of National-Socialism – by a woman who was born in 1941 in the very hospital where the religious served in those years. Immediately following the great jubilee of 2000, John Paul II decided that the Roman Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island was to become a memorial of the ‘new martyrs’ and witnesses of the faith from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Born on 1 May 1894 [at Hussowitz bei Bruenn in the Austria-Hungary Empire, today] Brno-Husovice, in modern day Czech Republic, of humble background, Helene Kafka grew up in the Austrian capital where she worked in the Lainz hospital with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. In 1914 she entered the convent and received the name Maria Restituta. From 1919 until 1942 she served in the hospital in Moedling, Vienna, where she became a surgical nurse and an anaesthetist, esteemed for her professional competence, beloved for her sensitivity and respected for her energetic character, so much that she soon earned the nickname ‘Sister Resoluta’.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
After Germany annexed Austria, the religious worked for justice and the dignity of every human being. Faced with the anti-religious suppression of the Nazis, she responded by reaffirming religious freedom and by refusing to remove the crucifixes in the hospital. She also countered Hitler’s swastika with the Cross of Christ. She also spread ‘A soldier’s song’ that spoke of democracy, peace, and a free Austria. Spied on by two ladies, she was denounced by a doctor close to the SS, who for some time sought an opportunity to distance her from the hospital.
‘SHE WAS A SAINT’
After her arrest by the Gestapo on Ash Wednesday, 18 February 1942, she was condemned to death on 29th October 1942 (the day chosen for her liturgical memorial). The sentence was carried out on 30th March 1943. Before her death she asked the chaplain to make the sign of the cross on her forehead. ‘She was a saint because in that situation she encouraged everyone, she transmitted a power, a positive spirit and one of confidence’, a fellow prisoner later recalled.
On 21 June 1998 Restituta Kafka was beatified in Vienna, together with the servants of God, Jakob Kern and Anton Maria Schwartz, by John Paul II, who said: ‘Looking at Blessed Sister Restituta, we can see to what heights of inner maturity a person can be led by the divine hand.
She risked her life for her witness to the Cross. And she kept the Cross in her heart, bearing witness to it once again before being led to execution, when she asked the prison chaplain to ‘make the Sign of the Cross on my forehead’. John Paul II continued: ‘Many things can be taken from us Christians but the Cross as the sign of salvation will not be taken from us. We will not let it be removed from public life! We will listen to the voice of our conscience, which says: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).
‘NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM US THE FAITH’
Blessed Maria Restituta Helene Kafka was a lady who, with a power for renewal, was able to give an example of freedom of expression and of responsibility of the individual conscience – even in difficult circumstances, animated by a virtue that is at times inconvenient: courage. ‘No matter how far we are from everything we are, no matter what is taken from us,’ the religious wrote in a letter from prison, ‘no one can take from us the faith we have in our heart. In this way we can build an altar in our own heart.'”
– This article was published in “The Crusader” issue June 2013. For donations towards the Restoration Appeal and subscriptions, please contact: The Secretary, All Saints Friary, Redclyffe Road, Urmston, Manchester M41 7LG
SOURCE : https://prayers4reparation.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/a-short-biography-of-blessed-maria-restituta-kafka/
The brutal murder of American journalist, James Foley, is just the latest act inspired by Satan, and carried out by his malevolent followers. James Foley was not killed because he was James Foley. He was killed because, like so many before him, he represented GOODNESS. The evil that has given us the heinous torture and bloodletting of Christians, since ISIS reared its Satanic head, is nothing new. It has been with us throughout history. I would like you to take a trip back to Nazi Germany, circa 1943. Meet Helena Kafka, who grew up to be become Sister Maria Restituta, a Franciscan Sister of Charity.
May 1, 1894, was a happy day for Anton and Marie Kafka. Marie had just given birth to her sixth child, a girl, and mom and her daughter were both doing fine. The proud parents named their new baby, Helena. Devout Catholics, Anton and Marie had Helena baptized into the faith thirteen days after her birth in their parish, The Church of the Assumption, in the town of Husovice, located in Austria. Before Helena reached her second birthday, and due to financial circumstances, the family had to move. They settled in the city of Vienna, where Helena and her siblings would remain and grow up.
Helena was a good student and worked hard. She received her First Holy Communion in May of 1905 in St. Brigitta Church, and was confirmed in the same church a year later. After eight years of school, Helena spent another year in housekeeping school. By the age of 15, she was working as a servant, a cook and was earning nursing. She became an assistant nurse at Lainz City Hospital in 1913. This was Helena's first contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, and she was immediately moved to become a Sister herself. On April 25, 1914, Helena Kafka joined the Franciscan sisters, and on October 23, 1915, she became Sister Maria Restituta. She made her final vows one year later, and began working solely as a nurse.
When World War I ended, Sister Maria was the lead surgical nurse at Modling Hospital in Vienna. She and all other Austrians had never heard of Adolf Hitler, and could never have imagined that one day their beloved nation would be annexed into the German Republic because of this man. After a successful coup d'etat by the Austrian Nazi Party on March 12, 1938, these unforeseen and unimagined things came to pass. The Nazis, under Hitler, now controlled the once proud Austrian nation.
Sister Restituta was very outspoken in her opposition to the Nazi regime. When a new wing to the hospital was built, she hung a Crucifix in each of the new bedrooms. The Nazis demanded that they be removed, telling Sister Restituta that she would be dismissed if she did not comply. She refused, and the crucifixes remained hanging on the walls One of the doctors on staff, a fanatical Nazi, would have none of it. He denounced her to the Nazi Party, and on Ash Wednesday, 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo after coming out of the operating room. The "charges" against her included "hanging crucifixes and writing a poem that mocked Hitler".
Sister Maria Restituta, the former Helena Kafka, loved her Catholic faith, and, filled with the Spirit, she wanted to do nothing more than serve the sick. The Nazis promptly sentenced her to death by the guillotine for "favouring the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason". The Nazis offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscans she loved so much. She adamantly refused. An appeal for clemency went as far as the desk of Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor. His response was that her execution "would provide effective intimidation for others who might want to resist the Nazis". Sister Maria Restituta spent her final days in prison caring for the sick. Because of her love for the Crucifix, and the Person who was nailed to it and died on it, she was beheaded on March 30, 1943. She was 48 years old.
Pope John Paul II visited Vienna on June 21,1998. That was the day Helena Kafka, the girl who originally went to housekeeping school to learn how to be a servant, was beatified by the Pope, and declared Blessed Maria Restituta. She had learned how to serve extremely well, always serving others before herself.
Blessed Marie Restituta, please pray for us.
SOURCE : http://www.catholic365.com/article/76/evil-transcends-the-ages-meet-blessed-maria-restituta-a-holocaust-victim-executed-for-hanging-a-crucifix.html