Attendees at the anniversary Mass in Markowa, Polond (photo: Karol Darmoros) 

By Karol Darmoros – Markowa

Mar 26 2024

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, celebrates Mass, attended by Poland’s president, to mark the 80th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Blessed Ulma family, who were murdered by Nazi German troops for sheltering Jews.

The blessed members of the Ulma family, murdered by Nazi German soldiers 80 years ago together with the Jews to whom they offered shelter, were remembered on Sunday, Mar 24, in Markowa, Poland.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, returned to Markowa to celebrate the Mass. He also presided over the Mass of Beatification of the Ulmas on Sep 10, 2023.

Love more powerful than ideology

In his homily on the anniversary, Cardinal Semeraro recalled the relevance of the Gospel message borne out in the life of the “Samaritans of Markowa”.

He emphasised that the blessed Ulma family members demonstrated that the power of love is far greater than the power of death.

“They show us that love coming close to that of the crucified Christ, the true Samaritan of humanity, is a revolution greater than any ideology,” said the Cardinal Prefect. “May we entrust to the intercession of Blessed Joseph, Victoria and their seven children our families, so that they may be schools of faith and places to practice and grow in true love. Let us pray for peace and universal brotherhood among people and nations.”

Polish President thanks Pope for beatification of the Ulmas

Polish President Andrzej Duda attended the Mass, and thanked Pope Francis for the gift of last year’s beatification of the Ulma family.

“In silence, they offered a testimony of humanity,” said President Duda. “How many of us would dare to risk our own lives and those of our family members to save another human being.”

President Duda said the Pope’s decision has spread the story of the family throughout the whole world.

For over a year and a half, the Ulma family gave shelter in their home to eight Jews from the Goldman, Grünfeld, and Didner families.

The Polish President also referred to the discussion about the attitudes of people during the Second World War.

“Let all those who today allow themselves to judge those times, and who allow themselves to say any word against the Poles at that time, against the Holocaust, be mindful and also take it upon themselves to consider in their honesty the aspect that those who helped risked their lives,” he said. “How many of them would know how to shoulder such a risk.”

He recalled that despite the crime of Mar 24, 1944, 21 Jews hidden by other Polish families in Markowa managed to survive the war.

Memories of the Holocaust ever alive

The brutal murder of the seven members of the Ulma family and of the Jews they were hiding was a shock to the residents of Markowa and numerous relatives of the Ulmas.

“We always have it before our eyes”, said Roman Kluz, one of the attendees of Sunday’s Mass, a cousin of Józef and Wiktoria’s children and a peer of their eldest daughter.

“Stasia and I attended the first grade of primary school together. I would always go there and they would come; actually, they were my aunt and uncle. Now everyone knows what happened here and this commemorates it,” said 88-year-old Roman Kluz.

Cardinal Semeraro recognised with a distinction

President Duda also awarded state honours to 21 people in recognition of their contribution to nurturing the memory of Poles who saved Jews.

The Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland was conferred on Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

The Ulma Family Airport

As a symbolic tribute to the blessed Ulma Family, the Airport of Rzeszów-Jasionka was also named after them on Sunday morning.

For more than two years, the airport has been the main hub for international humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine fighting off Russian aggression.

It is also the venue for many diplomatic meetings, as world leaders travelling to Ukraine usually arrive at Rzeszów Airport. – Vatican News