The Ulmas, an entire family beatified in Poland

The Ulmas, an entire family beatified in Poland

Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children will be beatified this Sunday, September 10 in Markowa, Poland. A historic and symbolic beatification in more than one way.

They lived the Gospel to the end. Until the gift of their life, a simple and loving daily life, for others. The Ulma, Józef and Wiktoria family along with their seven children – including a baby who lost his life at birth – were exterminated on March 24, 1944 in Poland by the Nazis for hiding Jews. They were executed with the eight members of the Jewish family they had hosted for a year and a half, the Goldmanns. While the latter were pursued and persecuted, they found refuge in the Ulma home. The family, although aware of the risk, hid them, offering them shelter, food and unfailing friendship.

In 1995, Wiktoria and Józef Ulma were posthumously awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Their beatification process began in the Przemyśl diocese in 2003. In 2017, church authorities decided to separate it from the trial of the 88 martyrs of World War II. In March 2021, the postulator of the beatification cause, Father Witold Burda, stated that in the case of the Ulma family, an attempt was made "to show that they were martyred for their faith in Christ." In the same year, the historical commission of the ancient Congregation for the Causes of Saints positively evaluated the positio of the Ulma family, that is, a document describing their life and proof of heroic virtues. On December 17, 2022, Pope Francis approved a decreeon the martyrdom of the family of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma de Markowa, with their seven children thus paving the way for the beatification of the family.

They lived their faith authentically.

“The two spouses knew that they risked the death penalty by hiding Jews, but they did not give up. It was a choice inspired by the Gospel, which they put into practice,” Manuela Tulli, Italian Vaticanist and co-author of a book on the Ulma family, told IMedia. “In the Bible that was found in their house, their loved ones noticed that they had underlined, with a pencil, the parable of the Good Samaritan ( Lk 10 ). They lived their faith authentically. »

Several elements are remarkable in the testimony of the Ulma family. First, the simple and daily holiness of this family. She embodies the famous “next door saints” dear to Pope Francis. “They gave their lives heroically, but in ordinary life,” recalls the Vaticanist. “The father, Jozef Ulma, had simply wanted to help friends, he knew this Jewish family personally. So, they simply organized themselves to prepare meals, do laundry together… It was a happy home. »

Beatification of an unbaptized baby

The event is also exceptional in the history of the Church because it is the first time that an entire family has been beatified and collectively recognized as martyrs. Including a baby who lost his life at birth. “It is in fact the first time that an entire family has been beatified, as a single unit,” continues Manuela Tulli. “The seventh child constitutes a special case because his head, which came out of the mother's womb, was identified during the exhumation of the body. He does not have a name but he is also considered by the Church as a martyr, under the title of “baptism of blood”.

The massacre of the Ulma family also took place on March 24, on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation. It is a sign which was retained by the Positio (the report of the dicastery for the Causes of Saints which made it possible to establish the martyrdom of the Ulma family, editor's note). “Today, March 25 is also in Poland the day dedicated to “new life”. This story of the Ulma family can also give great hope to families who have lost a child,” underlines the Vaticanist. “This reminds us of the value of the lives of the smallest, of people who have had the shortest lives, whose holiness the Church can thus recognize. »

The beatification of young children serves as a reminder of the importance of baptism. The Church has an unshakable certainty of faith concerning the salvation of baptized children who died before attaining consciousness and will, which allowed them to commit personal sin. Furthermore, the case of the youngest child yet to be born, who will soon receive the honor due to the blessed on an equal footing with his parents and baptized brothers and sisters, constitutes an important premise for the Church's reflection on the fate of children who died before baptism.

The gripping photo album of the Ulma family, killed for helping the Jews