Beatification for Hungarian nun executed for saving Jews

In the first beatification to take place in Hungary since that of St Stephen nearly 1000 years ago, Sara Salkahazi, a nun honoured by Jewish organisations for saving the lives of dozens of Jews during World War II, is to be declared Blessed in Budapest later this month.

Sara Salkahazi, who was recognised in 1972 by Yad Vashem, was killed by the Arrow Cross - the Hungarian allies of the Nazis - on 27 December 1944 for hiding Jews in a Budapest building used by her religious order, the Sisters of Social Service, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Salkahazi was taken along with several other occupants of the home and shot, their bodies falling into the Danube River and never recovered.

The beatification rite will take place 17 September at St Stephen's (St Istvan's) Basilica, Budapest and will be the first beatification to take place in the country since the beatification of St Stephen himself who was beatified in 1083 along with his son, St Imre, and St Gellert, an Italian bishop who had a key role in converting Hungarians to Christianity.

"Sara Salkahazi heroically exercised her love of humanity stemming from her Christian faith," said Budapest Cardinal Peter Erdo, who will celebrate the beatification mass. "This is for what she gave her life."

Salkahazi was born in the city of Kassa in 1899, at the time in Hungary but now known as Kosice and part of Slovakia.

Changes introduced by Pope Benedict again allow beatification rites to be held around the world, instead of only in the Vatican, as was the norm for centuries.

Church officials also highlighted Salkahazi's modest middle-class roots, saying she will be first Hungarian to be beatified who is not royalty or a member of the country's aristocracy, the Post added.

Before taking her religious vows in 1930, Salkahazi worked as a bookbinder, journalist and newspaper editor.

According to the Yad Vashem website, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by an act of the Israeli Knesset. Since its inception, Yad Vashem has been entrusted with documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period, preserving the memory and story of each of the six million victims, and imparting the legacy of the Holocaust for generations to come through its archives, library, school, museums and recognition of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Catholic Church to beatify Hungarian nun who saved Jews in World War II (Jerusalem Post, 4/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sara Salkahazi (Sisters of Social Service
Sisters of Social Service website
Five heroic Catholics of the Holocaust (Holy Cross University)
Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest

5 Sep 2006