The Catholic Church on Sunday honored a Polish family of nine, including a newborn infant, who were killed by Nazis for hiding Jewish families in their home during World War II.
Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children were honored in a beatification service — the first step towards sainthood — in the southeastern Polish town of Markowa, where they were killed by German military police in March 1944, CNN reported.
Operation Reinhard, which sought the extermination of all Jews in Germany-occupied Poland, was implemented near Markowa in late July and early August 1942, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA). During that time, Nazis began to deport approximately 120 Jews living in the region to labor and extermination camps.
This is the official portrait of the Ulma family unveiled during their beatification Mass. It depicts Józef and Wiktoria with their children against a summer landscape. The painting, made by the artist Oleg Chizhovsky, includes the family home of the Ulmas on the left and… pic.twitter.com/T9FNHzJkwN
— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) September 10, 2023
In the early morning of March 24, 1944, a Nazi patrol surrounded the Ulmas’ home and found eight Jewish people who had found refuge on the family’s farm. After executing them, Nazi police officials killed Jozef and a pregnant Wiktoria outside their home before ordering the execution of the family’s six children aged seven to one year old, according to CNA. The last child to die was the couple’s son, who was born prematurely after his mother’s death.
“We authorise that from now on the venerable Servants of God, Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma, spouses and their seven children… (who) fearlessly sacrificed their lives for the sake of love for their brothers and welcomed into their home those who suffered persecution, be given the title of blessed,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter read at the ceremony, according to CNN.
Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, said the occasion should be celebrated as a “day of joy, CNA reported.
“It would be misleading if the day of the beatification of the Ulma family served only to bring back to memory the terror of the atrocities perpetrated by their executioners, on whom, by the way, the judgment of history already weighs heavily,” Semeraro said, according to CNA. (RELATED: Germany Agrees To Pay $1.4 Billion To Holocaust Survivors Worldwide)
In addition to the Ulma family, Semeraro acknowledged and honored the Jewish families who were killed alongside them. “Today, together with the new Blesseds, we also want to remember their names,” the cardinal said, according to CNA. “They were: Saul Goldman with his sons Baruch, Mechel, Joachim, and Mojżesz, as well as Gołda Grünfeld and her sister Lea Didner, together with her young daughter Reszla.”