Blessed Julia with the orphans.

Blessed Julia Rodzińska

Shortly after World War II, a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp contacted our Dominican Congregation. She claimed that a Sister of our community was nothing short of a saint. While Sr. Julia’s Sisters may have considered her just another unfortunate victim of Nazi brutality, her fellow prisoners saw her as a hero. She preserved their morals, their dignity, and sometimes—literally—their lives. One fellow prisoner, Ewa Hoff, insisted that, amid those of numerous nationalities and religions who saw Julia’s witness, she “will not fall into oblivion.” This is the story of a life that Ewa Hoff and others demanded should be told.

Shaped by Sisters

Sister Julia was born Stanislawa Rodzinska in southern Poland in 1899. Her father, Michal Rodzinski, recorded proudly that he had personally delivered this, his second child. Michal was an organist for the parish church, a talented composer and man-of-all-trades who took on various jobs to make ends meet. His wife Marianna helped where she could, but a long-term illness took her life when Stanislawa was only 8 years old. Times must have been tough for the whole family—Marianna left two sons and two daughters—as Michal battled rheumatism in his fight to provide for his kids. Then, only two years later, he died from pneumonia, leaving Stanislawa and her siblings orphans.

Some relatives agreed to make room for the boys, Julian (14) and Ludwik (8). But since no one stepped forward to care for the girls, the parish priest arranged for Stanislawa (10) and her sister Janina (4) to stay with the Sisters of St. Dominic, who served in the parish. The Superior there was Sister Stanislawa (b. Julia) Leniart, a loving force who left such an impression on the girls in her care that many of them called her “Mom.” An orphan herself, Sr. Stanislawa Leniart had been raised by the very foundress of the Sisters of St. Dominic, and thus was able to pass on many lessons about Mother Kolumba and the Sisters’ charism firsthand.

So, with the Sisters, the Rodzinska girls found a home and a holistic education. This included housework, needlework, and taking part in the Sisters’ parish ministry: primarily teaching catechism classes, serving the sick of the village, and accompanying with the dying. Such experiences undoubtedly shaped young Stanislawa Rodzinska, who for some time expressed interest in becoming a Sister herself. Although she was a notably good student—she began college studies to be a teacher—she put studies aside to enter the convent in August 1916.

“To Love God and To Want to Serve God”

Before she became a novice, in August 1917, Stanislawa was expected to pass a canonical exam which included describing her aim for religious life. Stanislawa wrote about her desire “To love God and to want to serve God” (Miłość Boża i chęć służby Bożej). The next day, she received the Dominican habit and the name Maria Julia, and began to more systematically learn how to love and serve God in the charism of the Sisters of St. Dominic.

After novitiate, Sr. Julia resumed training to be a teacher, along with working in an orphanage the Sisters had recently opened for casualties of World War I. Her creative and organizational talents emerged as the Sisters arranged plays and art exhibitions to fundraise for the orphanage. Thanks no doubt to her own childhood experience, Sr. Julia also showed unusual tact, empathy, and motherliness for the orphans.

Sr. Julia spent a year or two teaching school as well, before being moved in December 1922 to Vilnius (now in Lithuania) to help open and staff a Shelter for Orphans. Here she also taught in the public schools, and established a reputation as a demanding but fair teacher, knowing how to remain cordial with students, motivate them, and strengthen weaker students’ self-confidence. Years later, students remembered her with gratitude and affection, recalling that she was always prepared for lessons and taught them in an interesting and understandable way.

“Mother of the Orphans”

The Vilnius administration soon took notice of Sr. Julia’s educational abilities—within five years, she was appointed school administrator. She also took on various responsibilities within the Dominican Congregation, including, from 1934 on, serving as superior of the convent in Vilnius as well as head of the Shelter for Orphans.

All of these responsibilities did not seem to exhaust Sr. Julia’s energies. Instead, she initiated several projects that were ahead of her time, such as after-school tutoring and summer camps for the poorest children. She did everything possible to educate students who would otherwise not engage in school. Teaching the value of prayer, Sr. Julia witnessed to her own love of the Eucharist and the Rosary, and even established a chapel of sorts for her students. Continuing to show understanding of orphans’ sensitivities, Sr. Julia made sure that those in her care were not poorly dressed or targeted by their peers; she was also known to slip sandwiches on the desks of children whom she knew had little to eat.

Under her direction and fundraising abilities, the Shelter for Orphans expanded. Because of her excellent management of the orphanage, Sr. Julia received many awards from city officials, money from which went to support the children. Her work earned her the title “mother of the orphans” from the Society of Vilnius.

Convent life did not lack Sr. Julia’s attention either. While she demanded careful and dutiful work from her Sisters, she also supported their initiatives. But she was especially known for her emphasis on prayer: she made sure Mass was available each day, organized retreats for Sisters of other houses as well, and stressed faithfulness to community and private prayer. Visiting priests and religious found a hospitable house under her care.

Sr. Julia’s life was not without pain though: from childhood, she had had stomach troubles, which led to a serious operation in 1937.

War comes to Vilnius

Then World War II came to Vilnius, with a bewildering succession of political occupations. In September 1939 the Soviets took over the region; in October, they gave Vilnius to Lithuania; in June 1941, it was occupied by the Germans. Residents had to adjust to three different governments within a short time, and the Sisters’ work became increasingly difficult under anti-Catholic regimes. In September 1940, they were dismissed from their teaching positions, but—determined to influence the children in their care as long as possible—the Sisters tried to serve as support staff. To make this possible, they received permission to wear secular clothes. In January 1941, however, the Sisters were ejected from their convent and had to scramble to find other residences and work.

As superior, Sr. Julia had a daunting burden: finding homes and jobs for her Sisters, which was not easy in a war-time environment hostile to Poles. She was able to place some sick and elderly Sisters as house-maids with kindly families, while she and others found lodging with the Nuns of the Visitation. Sr. Julia did not rest there: she joined in underground activities to pass on the Polish language and history, as well as the Catholic religion, subjects that were being suppressed and replaced by Lithuanian policies.

In March 1942, the Archbishop of Vilnius, the faculty of the Theological Seminary, and almost all monks and nuns in Vilnius were arrested—only three Congregations were spared, including the Dominican Sisters. These arrests intentionally disrupted the Church’s underground activities, one of which Sr. Julia took over: procuring food for retired priests, who were otherwise left destitute. She also made sure to visit her own Sisters in the various housemaid positions, and to encourage them spiritually. And, while no documentary evidence was left to be found, Sr. Julia was widely known to take part in the Archbishop’s efforts to save Jews.

In Lukiszki Prison

On July 12, 1943, Sr. Julia and three of her Sisters were arrested at the Visitation nuns’ residence. They were taken to the Lukiszki prison, which the Gestapo used for round-ups and reprisal mass executions. While the others were held in a collective cell, Sr. Julia was placed in solitary confinement in cell 31B, a cement closet so small that she could only sit. There was insufficient air and no room to stretch or move. In addition, prisoners at the Lukiszki were tortured brutally—or subject to threats towards their loved ones whom the Gestapo claimed to already have in custody. Sr. Julia endured these conditions for a year. Despite the pressure, no evidence was found of her work for the Jews, nor of the charges for which she was arrested: political activities including contact with the Polish partisans.

Probably the greatest source of Sr. Julia’s suffering was being deprived of the sacraments; surely, she must have relied on the one thing available to her, and which she had always treasured—prayer. One prisoner who passed Sr. Julia as she was being led from the isolation cell recalled that peace and interior recollection radiated from her face. Her Sisters at the General House heard that Sr. Julia was suffering unspeakably, but with faith that God’s Providence would allow her to persist until release.

Julia’s fellow Sisters were released from the Lukiszki, but she was not. Instead, in the sweltering heat of July 1944, the forty-five-year-old religious was transported via cattle car to the concentration camp Stutthof. The cattle car itself was a terrifying ordeal, with numerous deaths from famine, thirst, unsanitary conditions, and lack of fresh air: corpses of the dead lay on those still alive. The trip took four days, to traverse about three hundred miles. Sr. Miroslawa Dombek, O.P., said in her research summary on Blessed Julia: “Only deep faith and prayer could have strengthened one so that, after one year of imprisonment in the isolation cell, she did not succumb to depression. This state of incessant prayer accompanied Sister Julia in each period of her life.”

Stutthof: “where everyone forgot what love meant”

Once she arrived at Stutthof, Sr. Julia was given the number 40992, badged with a red triangle to designate her “political criminal” status, and assigned to the Jewish section of the camp. Life in this part of the camp was designed to exterminate as many prisoners as possible, with rampant starvation, beatings, and unbearable workloads. Conditions were unspeakably dirty and the local climate and water were conducive to lung illnesses. German women who were imprisoned for immoral conduct were made guards in this section, and mockery and other forms of humiliation—both from them and the S.S. guards—were routine. As part of the systematic psychological terror, prisoners were assembled daily so that some could be arbitrarily “selected” for execution.

In conditions like these, where prisoners were systematically degraded to appear less than human, their reasoning changed and morals seemed to disappear. But Sr. Julia refused to let the inhumanity triumph. She actively sought out others to help and reminded others of their morals and human dignity. Ewa Hoff described, “She was noble, always willing to help and support people. She carried out a mission of mercy in the camp where everyone forgot what love meant.”

Sr. Julia’s goal was to never ignore a fellow prisoner’s need for the sake of her own survival. She shared her limited rations and somehow arranged to procure warmer clothes for those who suffered from the cold more than she. Her maternal skills continued to show—as Ewa Hoff recounted once being awoken, “She touched me delicately, in a way that only a mother can do to awaken a child: I have some soup for you, and I would like you to eat while it is still warm. It is why I have to awaken you.” Such behavior made other prisoners aware and ashamed that all they did was focus on their own survival.

Sr. Julia took on reputation for being always positive and helpful, never discriminating between nationalities nor religious beliefs. Prisoners of foreign nationalities looked to her to arbitrate conflicts.

In turn, Sr. Julia actively reminded her fellow prisoners of their religious values. Turning always to prayer as a source of strength, she led community prayer each morning in her barrack, a meeting made up of mainly Jewish women from various nations. A prisoner later described, “In her presence, you felt the need to pray”; despite the hellish atmosphere, Sr. Julia was known to be constantly immersed in prayer. Although religious practices were strictly forbidden in the camp, interlopers backed away in silence when they encountered Sr. Julia calmly continuing her prayer, undeterred, on her knees. Her fellow prisoners relied on Sr. Julia for her calm leadership in prayer: one evening, when she could not lead them, they cried in desolation but could not summon up the courage to organize prayer on their own.

Prayer was so valuable to Sr. Julia that she traded bread for a rosary. She also smuggled notes to another part of the camp, to arrange for a priest-prisoner to come over on a “work assignment.” While she risked her life by smuggling notes, she showed that others’ lives were invaluable to her: she also sent repeated notes to the husband of a fellow prisoner, until she effectively dissuaded him from suicide. This prisoner survived the camp; later he recounted that Sr. Julia had awakened hope in him that allowed him to overcome his fear of life in Stutthof. He was only one of the many depressed, beaten, and broken people who received words of hope and encouragement from Sr. Julia.

Her—primarily Jewish—prisonmates recalled years later how Sr. Julia spoke lovingly of the beauty and value of life as a religious Sister, and the customs she missed. The values that had shaped Sr. Julia’s life were passed on to those around her as she taught, by word as by example, to forgive those who inflicted suffering, to pray, and to trustingly accept God’s plans for one’s life.

“She gave her life for others”

Sr. Julia’s discernment of her own life’s end came in November 1944, when a typhus epidemic spread through the camp to the weakest and most decimated: the Jewish women’s quarters. While healthier prisoners tried to distance themselves from those infected, Sr. Julia resolved to aid the sick. Prisonmates begged her not to: the Allies were approaching and the likelihood of surviving the camp increased; but to help the typhus victims, in these conditions, meant certain death.

Barrack 30 was like a death-house of typhus which no one wanted to approach…but Sr. Julia did. Those infected with typhus were left lying in their own waste, helplessly “eaten by lice”, and dehydrated from diarrhea. Doing what little she could, she moistened their lips with water and comforted them by merciful actions and spiritual words. She even rescued one of those who had been left for dead, taking particular care of her so that the woman could survive the camp and return to her little daughter outside. While the woman did survive, Sr. Julia fell victim to the typhus herself.

As Sr. Julia was overcome with typhus fever, she clearly knew death was approaching, and prisoners witnessed tears come from her—tears and prayers for those loved ones whom she would not see again. Even as it became more and more difficult to move, Sr. Julia did not stop serving others: her sick neighbors called her name and waited for her to lean over them. On January 5, 1945, Sr. Julia sent her only correspondence that still survives: asking a friend to forward news of her to her brother, she also asked for some basic necessities. Her letter shows a typical effort to bother others as little as possible—she asked for bread to be sent from a Sister whose “brother has a bakery, so she could easily help me.” The items she asked for—bread, fat, onions, citric acid, and soap—were Julia’s only hint of her lamentable condition.

On January 26, the Germans began to evacuate Stutthof because of the Allies’ advance. Some were left behind, including “several thousand Jewish women who are emaciated to the stage of semicorpses and as such [were] not subject to evacuation.”* After the evacuation, chaos and disorganization overwhelmed the barracks. For several days, no meals were distributed, registrations were not kept, and the Jewish section remained strictly isolated.

Sr. Julia died less than a month later—only a few months before the camp was liberated. On February 20, those lying near her in Barrack 27 heard her murmured prayers cease. This was their notice that her soul had passed. Subsequent actions reveal much about conditions in the camp and Sr. Julia’s impact on others: although some took the opportunity to pull the crowns from her mouth, another person covered her body with a piece of cloth as it lay naked with those of other victims. This was a telling sign of respect. The words of those who survived Sr. Julia perhaps tell it best: “Not only Catholic compatriots mourned her death, but also Russians, Latvians, and others.” The Jewish women did not hesitate to call Sr. Julia a martyr and a saint. “She gave her life for others, died sacrificing herself; she was the Angel of goodness.”

This summary was written with large thanks to Sr. Mirosława Dombek, O.P., for her research, published in 1998 and translated in 2008 as Strength in Weakness: Life and Martyrdom of Julia Stanislawa Rodzińska, Dominican (1899-1945),

*W. Mitura, The Memories of a Stutthof Prisoner, Warsaw 1978, p. 156, as quoted by Dombek.

What people said about Blessed Julia

A fellow prisoner with Blessed Julia at the concentration camp who later testified about Blessed Julia's sanctity.

Testimony of Ewa Hoff

Sister Julia, Stanisława Rodzińska, the Superior of the Dominican Sisters’ convent in Vilnius. She died on February 20, 1945, in the Stutthof Concentration Camp from typhus at the age of 45.

She was very noble, good and willing to help [others]. She performed works of mercy in the camp where it was nearly forgotten that mercy even exists. One day, when I was asleep, she touched me as gently as only a mother could wake her child. “I have a little bit of extra soup for you, and I would like you to eat it while it is still warm. For this reason only I woke you up,” [she said.]

I see her before my eyes as though she were standing in front of me: short, slim, and at the same time squarish. Her face light; protruding cheekbones, and narrow and tight lips, just as on the old German woodcuts. Her hair light and smooth; [she] usually covered it with a scarf in a way as country women do. [She was] strong, dexterous and robust. When she was climbing her three-story bunk, she would say with a smile that as a child coming from the mountains she had been used to climbing.

She came from the Carpathian region. Being an orphan, she was raised in a convent. Those hours when I asked her about her life in the convent and encouraged her to tell [me about it] were a feast. Then she drifted away from the drab, dreary and dark existence. She was all immersed in the [things] that were most high and dear to her. She struggled with German and she wished she could speak with no difficulty and so share with me everything she felt. But she just blossomed when she was talking about the noble life in the convent, the wonderful customs and sublime ceremonies. At the end of each such conversation she thanked me with teary eyes, whereas it was I who should have thanked her for what she was giving me during these conversations.

On many Sunday midmornings, when circumstances allowed, we were walking together in silence around the barracks, spiritually participating in the Holy Mass. She prayed with us every evening. She said the prayers in Polish: the Holy Rosary, the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and many other prayers which she arranged and adjusted to our current needs and situation.

I will always have this image before my eyes: a small room full of people occupying three- or four-story beds; poor light, most of the time the shade a lá Rembrandt, the lighter spots of women’s white faces and of rags hung and drying [everywhere]; and our Sister Julia kneeling upon a wooden plank, erected and with her head lifted and her eyes directed toward the Infinite. In her strong, shapely hands [she held] the rosary, and her face was closed to what surrounded her. At the first glance, her prayerful face made the appearance of being snippy, until the moment when the one looking at her realized the whole hidden intensity. Sometimes, during prayer a jailor opened the door noisily, but usually closed it back without remark. Sister Julia inspired respect. In some sense, she had the nature of a leader. As I noticed, everybody submitted to her willingly, among them the unruly, under the influence of her pure and straightforward nature.

She often lay flat on her bed, praying with her eyes shut, immersed in meditation, right in the midst of the loud and relentless camp noise as she drew herself and her prayer away from the undisciplined, wild and austere surroundings.

Many a time she was serene, and even joyful. She showed true motherly care and favor to us – the few people with whom she was closer. By some coincidence she was provided for better than others. And I saw her on frosty, windy winter days during long hours of roll call, as she was wearing her thin clothes and wooden clogs and was freezing; she kept her warm coat and gloves for the weak and the sick.

There were four of us celebrating Christmas in 1944. We were chewing something [as we sat] on our beds. A few fir twigs and a tiny tree attached to the blanket served as our Christmas decoration. Sister Julia received a Christmas package from some Polish priests who also were prisoners in Stutthof, but they never saw her. She shared everything with us. With these few slices of bread and a little bit of cake we arranged a true banquet. She had a gift of organizing everything properly even amid the greatest adversities, and her demeanor always had some certain appropriateness. The mentioned reverend priests enclosed a letter which moved Sister Julia to tears. She translated it to me. Its simplicity, power and trust in God moved me deeply.

During the typhus epidemic Sister Julia strove to help the sick in the barrack, because the small infirmary could fit only a small percentage of the patients. This help, because of lack of any medications and possibilities of care, was limited to taking the temperature, sometimes to giving out aspirin which she literally scrounged in the revir, and to [saying] good words. She went from bed to bed, and ultimately she herself was struck by the fever. Her conspicuous apathy was a bad prognostic. In fever, she did not show any will to undertake the fight with the disease. 

On February 20, 1945, she calmly fell asleep. Not only her Catholic countrymen were mourning over her, but also the Russians, Latvians and others. We were friends. She will remain unforgotten.

[1] Today’s capital of Lithuania
[2] in the concentration camp slang, a term meaning camp hospital [from German “Revier”]

A priest and fellow prisoner of Blessed Julia in the concentration camp.

Testimony of Fr. Franciszek Grucza

I met Sister Julia in the concentration camp in Stutthof in the summer of 1944. Sister Julia was a person of profound faith; she feared God and she trusted in Him.           
For others, she was an angel of goodness; she was a Samaritan to others in the camp. She drew her strength from sacramental grace, which she valued greatly. She was searching for a priest, because from the ministry of priests and the reception of the sacraments she drew strength to bring aid to others in the such severe conditions of the camp and at [the time] of such tremendous debasement of human beings.            

Goodness emanated from her. She [had]a great personality. I never heard her complaining or grumbling about anything. She endured everything with sincerity and inner holiness. She was very modest and natural, she never imposed herself, but radiated with her silent presence and Samaritan devotion to others.          

Sister Julia saw in God the sense of her suffering and the hardships she had to go through. Such was she as I got to know her during [our] conversations and also from others. Her firm and uncompromising attitude and her faithfulness to God radiated from her. For me, she was a saint, she is a martyr. 

A fellow prisoner of Blessed Julia in the concentration camp.

Testimony of Klementyna Zastrzeżyńska

I met Sister Julia in 1944 in Łukiszki[1] (pron.wu-keesh-KEE) Prison in Vilnius[2] .. . After three months [spent] in the prison, we were transported to the penal camp in Prowieniszki[3] (pron.prohv-yeh-neesh-KEE). After three months spent there, Sister Julia and I were transported to the concentration camp in Stutthof by Gdańsk (pron. g-DAHNSK)[4].There, I got to know Sister Julia more closely and I made friends with her. This dreadful Stutthof brought us closer to each other. I saw Sister Julia till the end of her life.

Sister Julia was a holy person. She was characterized by a nun shaken spirit of faith. Such she was when I met her and such she remained until the end. Sister Julia always put her hope in God. During our stay in the camp, she raised our spirits, entrusted us to God and called us to prayer. She organized common prayer for us, her fellow prisoners. Thanks to Sister Julia we gathered together in a room called a shtuba[5] and there we said the litany and other prayers led by her. She used to say that everything is in God’s hands. Sister Julia’s hallmark was a great love of God and the Church. In secret she organized meetings with a priest, also a prisoner, in order to take advantage of his ministry and to confess to him, and also so that others could use such an opportunity to confess and to reconcile with God. The evenings of prayer that she organized were memorable, simply wonderful. There was always the rosary, hymns and other prayers. Sister Julia always led these herself. The prisoners of other nationalities also came to pray with us. And not only from our shtuba, but also from others. There was a lot of us – a full shtuba. Some said to others: “Come to Sister Julia for the rosary.” She was very pious. Her piety influenced others; she encouraged prayer. While near her, one simply felt the need to pray.

In her conversations with others she raised their spirits and offered support. She searched for such people and she nourished them through a good word. She approached everybody in this way when she felt that one expected her help. She helped everyone. It did not matter for her who the person was, whether it was a Jew or someone else. She supported everybody, with no exception. She approached even a person whom she did not know and she helped and comforted him. She was able to do it because she herself put her hope deeply in God. She approached everyone – literally everyone. How much she helped my husband who was also in the camp, and he survived, he did not break down! It was thanks to Sister Julia that, though he was depressed, he believed that everything would be all right and that he would get out [from the camp]. My husband survived the concentration camp. When I was sick, Sister Julia sent secret letters to him in which she informed him about my health and constantly raised his spirit.

She shared everything she received. In this way, she rescued those who were more hungry and weak than she was. She shared everything, literally, everything, even the last piece of bread. She gave up [everything] for the sake of those hungrier than her. All of the prisoners had the same food rations. Some felt more hungry than others. Sister Julia did not eat her rations, though they were [too] scant for survival, but gave them to others. [She was] extremely merciful and obliging, and so sacrificial. Until the end of her life she was serving others, taking care of those sick from typhus, although she herself already could hardly move. She could barely stand on her feet, but she was saying she had to serve [others]. Truly, she was an extraordinary person. She came to me [who was] sick with typhus – so terribly contagious – when everybody else was doing everything to avoid meeting someone who was sick. She took care not only of me. She took care of many, many others. She was constantly on the move . . . It washer love – sacrificial love – that led to her contracting the disease, but itwas the other human being who mattered for her. A human being in need of helpwas in the first place. When [other] prisoners reproved her [saying] she shouldnot put herself in danger [by] going to the revir[6]  – [because] otherwise she would contract thedisease that many had died from – she said she had to go and that the peoplethere needed her and they were waiting for her. She felt an inner need to bewith them and to help those who found themselves in such a dramatic, oftenhopeless situation. She couldn’t imagine not being with them – with those whoneeded her and her help, word and care. She was going [there, because] it wasstronger – it was sacrificial love. When she felt that death was coming, shemissed her Order. Everybody said she was a unique person. [She was] praying, andconsoling others; she put all her hope in God who was her strength – thestrength of her spirit in the such severe conditions of the camp. She was merciful. To me, and not only to me, she was a saint.

[1] Today’s Lithuanian name is Lukiškės
[2] Toda’s capital of Lithuania
[3] Toda’s Lithuanian name is Pravieniškės
[4] Polish city on the Baltic coast
[5] in the concentration camp slang, a term meaning room or part of a block [from German “Stube”]
[6] in the concentration camp slang, a term meaning camp hospital [from German “Revier”]

A fellow prisoner of Blessed Julia in the concentration camp.

Testimony of Maria Wlaszek

Sister Julia had a great spirit of faith. In the camp, she gathered us in large number for evening prayers. She brought hope, needed so much for survival.         
In the conditions of the camp, Sister Julia’s face was always serene; she smiled to all. The peace that radiated from her face was striking. I had the impression that she was internally recollected. She did not impose herself, and yet this outwardly quiet Sister inspired respect in others. I remember quite well how she led the Rosary and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In conditions debasing to the human person she was able to direct us towards different values – spiritual values.          

While others were seeking ways of escape, she stayed in the camp among those sick from typhus and she took care of them to the end. She was aware that she might contract the disease and die like many, but she sacrificed herself for others. She could have avoided [death] if she had not gone to the hospital to help the sick.

A fellow religious Sister of Blessed Julia who attests to Blessed Julia's sanctity.

Testimony of Sr. Edmunda Eugenia Śmieciuszewska, OP

I met Sister Julia after my first vows when she came to pick me up from Biała Niżna (pron. bia-wah neezh-NAH)[1]. We went together to Vilnius[2]. I was there until 1936 and then I went to Lviv[3].

Sister Julia fulfilled her duties very earnestly. She was a woman of great faith. That’s how I remember her from the ten-year-long stay together. She conducted all of her works in trust in God. There were certain difficulties in running the house, but I never heard her complaining. She was very sensitive to the orphans’ lot.

Sister Julia’s hallmark was her ability to compassionately understand the needs of other sisters and people, especially those who were abandoned. Her broad educational and charitable ministry to the most poor was the hallmark of her personality. This inspires peoples’ respect, and thus she is honored.

[1] Biała Niżna – small village in southern Poland, where Sisters have their Novitiate House and make their first vows.
[2] Today’s capital of Lithuania
[3] City in today’s Ukraine

Litany of Blessed Julia

Blessed Julia as a novice with her siblings.

Lord, have mercy on us.
         Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
         Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
         have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
         have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
         have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
         have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
         pray for us.
Blessed Julia,
         pray for us.
Witness of living faith,
Obedient to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit,
Loving Christ and the Church,
Trusting in God’s love,
Entrusting everything to Mary,
Devoted to the life of prayer,
Apostle of the Eucharist,
Propagator of the prayer of the Rosary,
Faithful to Christ in religious vows,
Showing forth the beauty of consecrated life,
Caring for families,
Guardian of orphans,
Educator of the youth,
Exemplar of pedagogues,
Joyful witness of evangelical charity,
Angel of goodness,
Experiencing hunger and thirst,
Sharing with others the last piece of bread,
Longing for the Sacrifice of the Mass,
Solidary with the suffering and excluded,
Awaking hope in the doubting and despairing,
Protecting the mortally weakened,
Supporting the dying with prayer,
Respecting the dignity of every human being,
Forgiving the oppressors,
Merciful Samaritan,
Ministering to neighbors in the unhuman conditions of the camp,
Uniting people of different nationalities and religions,
Obliterated with the love of neighbor,
Martyr gazing at the Crucified Lord,
Incinerated among “human numbers,”
Fulfilling the Father’s will until giving up life,
Bravely following the narrow path into the Father’s arms,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
          spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
          graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
          have mercy on us.
Pray for us, O blessed Julia.
          That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Loving God, you are the strength of those who put their trust in you. You have enabled Blessed Julia Rodzińska to give a testimony of the unshaken faith amidst injustice, hatred and human cruelty and thus made her a ray of hope and the living sign of your love. Through her intercession and example teach me how to draw strength from the sacrament of the Eucharist and from the prayer of the Rosary, so I may live in perfect union with you and give witness to my Christian calling through humble service of my neighbor. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Julia with her family.Blessed Julia with her Sisters in the garden.School photo of Blessed Julia and her fellow sisters with the children.Sister Julia.Sister Julia busily working by the desk.Sister Julia as a novice with her siblings.The last known photo of Blessed Julia before her arrest and imprisonment at the concentration camp.The last known photo of Blessed Julia before her arrest and imprisonment at the concentration camp.