Ulma family a ‘symbol of values that must not be betrayed’, says Pope Francis

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The beatification of a Polish Catholic family who were murdered in March 1944 for aiding Jews, will take place on Sunday 10 September in Markowa, where they lived.

Ahead of the beatification, Pope Francis has upheld the Ulma family’s collective witness of faith in giving their lives to protect persecuted Jews during World War II.

“May the sacrifice made by the family of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their children, who did not hesitate to give their lives to help eight people of Jewish origin, be for us and future generations a symbol of faithfulness to values that must never be betrayed even under threat of death.”

Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, wrote those words in a letter on behalf of Pope Francis.

The letter was sent to Fr Miroslaw Kalinowski, the Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin, which published the book ‘Martyred and Blessed Together: The Extraordinary Story of the Ulma Family’.

Reflections on past and current crises

In his letter, Archbishop Peña Parra said the Pope hopes that “recalling the events of World War II, which resulted in the extermination of millions, including innocent children, and the Holocaust experienced by the Jews, will encourage reflection on the current global situation.”

The Archbishop noted that Pope Francis frequently laments that our world is torn by a “third World War fought piecemeal”.

“The authors, publishers, the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, and all readers are commended to God in prayer and receive the Pope’s heartfelt blessings,” wrote Archbishop Peña Parra.

In-depth book about the Ulmas

The book about the Ulma family was written by Manuela Tulli, an Italian journalist with the ANSA news agency, and Fr Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, head of the Polish section of Vatican News, and deputy director of the Heschel Center of the Catholic University of Lublin.

It explores the life and martyrdom of the Ulma family during World War II and the Holocaust.

The book also offers a glimpse of the Jews who perished with the Ulmas: Shaul Goldman and his four sons, Lea Didner and her daughter Reszla, and Golda Grünfeld.

It includes photographs taken by Józef Ulma, and is published in three languages.

Beatification Mass

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, contributed the book’s preface and introductions, respectively.

The beatification of the Ulma family, who were murdered in March 1944 for aiding Jews, will take place in Markowa, where they lived.

Cardinal Semeraro will celebrate the beatification Mass in Markowa on 10 September alongside 1,000 priests and 80 cardinals and bishops from Poland and abroad, with over 32,000 faithful registered to attend.

The Chief Rabbi of Poland will also be present at the Mass.

The beatified family members are Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their children Stanisława, Barbara, Władysław, Franciszek, Antoni, Maria, and an unnamed child.