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Vatican beatifies Polish family killed for protecting Jews during the Holocaust

The Ulmas “represented a ray of light in the darkness,” Pope Francis said in a public address.

St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, on Aug. 17, 2016. Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90.
St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, on Aug. 17, 2016. Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90.

On Sept. 13, 1995, Yad Vashem recognized Józef and Wiktoria Ulma—a Polish couple who hid eight Jews during the Holocaust—as among the Righteous Among the Nations. Now, the Vatican has beatified the Ulmas, as well as their six children and unborn child.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the canonization process by which someone is deemed a saint involves three steps. After beatification—the second step—the person is called “blessed.” To be canonized, someone must have performed a verified miracle.

Marcello Cardinal Semeraro, a papal envoy, said the Polish family performed a “gesture of hospitality and care, of mercy” and “paid the highest price of martyrdom,” the Associated Press reported. The Ulmas “represented a ray of light in the darkness,” Pope Francis said in a public address.

“On the night of March 23-24, 1944, German police came to Markowa from Łańcut. They found the Jews on the Ulma farm and shot them to death,” Yad Vashem states. “Afterwards, they murdered the entire Ulma family—Józef, Wiktoria, who was nine months pregnant, and their six small children, Stanisława, Barbara, Władysława, Franciszka, Maria and Antoni.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki attended the beatification ceremony, as did Chabad Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland.

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