Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Martyr For the Crucified Christ ----- Blessed Helen Kafka

Introduction :

In 1894, in the humble house of a Cobbler at Hussowitz - Brunn (now Moldavia), Helen Kafka was born the sixth of seven children.

As soon as she started speaking, she began to stammer. In the Year 1896, when she was just 2 years old her family migrated to Vienna, Austria to seek a better life.

At the age of 6, Helen went to school, but because of her stammering the teacher forbade her to speak for 3 months with the hope that she would recover from that serious defect.

The "Cure" seemed to work and Helen soon started to express herself freely and boldly like other children.

At 15, she was forced to leave school and had to take up the job of a housemaid. In her heart, She nurtured a great love for Jesus Christ.

She wanted to consecrate herself only to Him.

Jesus Christ in the sick :

She was successful in obtaining a job at the hospital in Lainz, Austria that was run by the Sisters of Christian Charity, a Viennese Congregation.

Her desire to become a "Nun" and consecrate herself to Christ became more intense than ever. Her Parents opposed her but she prayed and tried to convince her parents about her vocation.

Ultimately, She ran away from Home.

At the age of 20, she joyfully entered the institute she had grown to love so much. Dressed in her religious habit she took the name of Sister Maria Restituta following a young martyr who was killed in 304 A.D. during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian.

In 1914, the "Great War" began. The Novice Restituta lent her services at the hospital at Modling as nurse in the operation theatre and also as an anesthetist. There was nothing that could intimidate or frighten her.

She had an ardent love for Jesus Christ Crucified and for the Holy Eucharist. Her bright and energetic spirit came from Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

She spent a long time in prayer every morning at Holy Mass adoring Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist which is the representation of His Sacrifice.

During the day, she often lifted her eyes to the Crucifix that was hung in every room and even in the operation theatre.

Vienna is invaded by the Nazis :

In 1938, the Nazis invaded Vienna, Austria. Hitler didn't want any nuns running the hospitals and ordered the Crucifix be removed from all public places just as some want to do today.

Sister Helen succeeded in secretly continuing to assist the sick and the dying. The new surgeon was a Nazi Fanatic and though he desperately needed her experience he sent a report about her.

When the Nazis removed the Crucifix from the hospital at Modling, she rebelled and replaced it.

When they built a new wing at the hospital, Sister Helen hung the Crucifix in all the rooms knowing very well what would happen to her.

This is the Place for the Crucifix !!

Her gesture was a challenge to the false cross ---- the swastika ---- the symbol of Nazism. Hearing that she had put back the Crucifix she was reported to the Gestapo. On Ash Wednesday in 1942, she was arrested by the SS for the crime of libel because she called Hitler a bloodthirsty dictator.

She was accused of high treason and imprisoned in Vienna. Her long Calvary of a year began.

Towards, the end of March 1943 her death sentence arrived from Berlin, signed by Martin Bormann himself, one of the highest ranking Nazis.

Sister Helen succeeded in sending a last message to her fellow sisters.

"For Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament I live, and for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament I want to die".

On March 30th 1943, Sister Helen Restituta Kafka was beheaded at Vienna under the blade of the guillotine.

Before turning herself over to the executioner, she asked the chaplain : "Father, please make the sign of the Cross on my forehead".

Saint Pope John Paul the Great, beatified her in 1998 as a "Martyr of the Crucifix".

Conclusion :

In these our times, there are some people who wish to remove the Crucifix from Homes, Schools, Public Places, and sometimes even from Churches.

This Humble Daughter of Austria with unusual authoritativeness tells us "Do not touch the Crucifix".

Credits and References :

Martyr for the Crucified
Blessed Helen Kafka
by Paolo Risso
Pages 13-15
Don Bosco's Madonna Mumbai,
June 2008
Vol -10, N0-2


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