Swedish Nun Canonized by Catholic Church for Hiding Jews in Convent During WWII
A Swedish nun who hid Jews in her convent in Rome during World War II was canonized as a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sunday, Radio Free Europe reported.
According to the report, Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, who died in Rome in April 1957, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000, and was recognized in 2004 by Yad Vashem – Israel’s main Holocaust museum — as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. In 2015, the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation declared the convent where she served as mother superior a “House of Life.”
Piero Piperno, an 87-year-old Jew whose life was saved by the righteous gentile, said of Hesselblad, “She saved our lives, but above all, in those dark times, she recognized the dignity of our religion.”
Along with Hesselblad, Stanislaus Papczynski, a 17th-century Polish priest, was also granted saint status by the Catholic Church.
Born in 1870, the fifth of 13 children, Hesselblad was raised in the Reformed Church of Sweden. When she was 18, she moved to New York, where she worked as a nurse — through which she was introduced to the Catholic community. She converted to Catholicism in 1902, when she made a pilgrimage to Rome.