'The secret of life is love’
The beautification of Sr. Marta Wiecka is a great gift of Divine Providence for our Church. Till the 1990s we enjoyed the intercession of Blessed Jakub Strzemie. After 1991 and the fall of communism our Church was spiritually growing, which was proven by a bigger number of blessed and saints. In 2005, Benedict XVI canonised Zygmunt Gorazdowski and Jozef Bilczewski. Sr. Marta, her sanctity, will certainly enrich the spirituality of our Church. Let me remind you that the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul has contributed a lot to the lives of believers in our archdiocese. Moreover, from the beginning of his ministry in Lviv Cardinal Marian Jaworski did his best to have more intercessors in his archdiocese and consequently, he paid much attention to every cause for beautification, including the beautification of Sr. Marta. When he stayed in Rome he used to visit the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and was interested in the course of the given process. Therefore, the beautification of Sr. Marta was a great joy and satisfaction for Cardinal Jaworski.
Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Coadjutor Archbishop of Lviv and Vicar General for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lviv. (KAI)
The Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul, commonly called ‘the Grey Sisters’ experienced great joy. On 24 May 2008 in Lviv, Sr. Marta Wiecka, belonging to the community, was beautified. She died in the opinion of sanctity in 1904 in Sniatyn, Ukraine. Her sanctity meant love and zealous service to the sick that were under her care in hospitals, and it also meant her ability to talk to the sick and lead them to reconciliation with God. Thanks to her spiritual care even several Jews received baptism. She was eager to treat souls and bodies to the point of sacrificing her life. She died at the age of 30 after having caught typhus in the hospital ward. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, arrived in Lviv for the beautification celebration. He presided over Mass in Bohdan Chmielnicki Park of Culture in Lviv. There was the inscription in Latin and Ukrainian ‘Love of Crucified Christ impels us’ over the field altarpiece. Over 7,000 believers, including about 1,000 Poles, participated in the Eucharist. There was also the person who was healed through the intercession of Sr. Marta Wiecka. At the beginning of the Eucharist Cardinal Marian Jaworski thanked the Holy Father Benedict XVI (in Polish and Ukrainian) for including into the blessed the one who was characterised by heroic love of neighbour and who was a model of ecumenical reconciliation. Being clearly moved, he uttered his request for the beautification of Sr. Marta Wiecka. Then the story of the Polish sister was read in Ukrainian. In his homily, delivered in Italian and translated into Ukrainian and Polish, Cardinal Bertone reminded the faithful that Ukraine had remained faithful to Christ and the Holy See during its long period of communist persecutions and that John Paul II, visiting the country in 2001, had called Ukraine ‘nation-friend’. ‘Today the old desires of the Ukrainian nation concerning the beautification of her daughter Sr. Marta Wiecka have come true. In the past the grave of Sr. Marta became a symbol of unity of the nation and an example of a true ecumenical dialogue’, said Cardinal Bertone. He added that the newly Blessed Sister had offered her young life for other people, regardless of their nationalities and religious convictions.
‘Sr. Marta lived for every person she met, letting him or her see some concrete sign of God’s love. God’s love – God is love – was evident in her life, and we, although we cannot see him, we love him when we love our neighbours whom we can see, even to the point of shedding blood for them when needed, as the martyrs of the first centuries did, as Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, Blessed Emilian Kowcz, a Greek Catholic priest, or the martyrs of faith from World War II’, explained the Vatican Secretary of State. ‘The fact of your great numbers gathered here’, Cardinal Bertone said, ‘testifies that love always wins. Christian mission means testifying to love’s victory in every situation. The secret of life is love: the inexpressible love of God that overcomes human weakness, moves human hearts so that he loves life, his neighbours and even his enemies. Sr. Marta Wiecka appears as a luminous example of limitless love. Her beautification is a concrete example testifying to the importance of responsibility for others, of life for others, of service to others. By making new saints and blessed the Church shows them to us and our successors as models to follow. The Church invites us to follow this way and to witness to the world about limitless love that overcomes all things, even death.’ Cardinal Bertone appealed to those who cared for the sick, ‘May the Blessed Sr. Marta Wiecka arouse in you care, attention and dedication for all sick. Man is a unity of body and soul. When you care for the sick do not forget to consider their spiritual needs, necessary for full health. The sick and the suffering need to meet God so much! How much they need protection and development of the culture of life and love to oppose effectively the civilisation of death, together with its sad painful indicators out of which I will mention abortion and euthanasia! Today this humble Sr. Marta of Sniatyn shines in heaven among the blessed and she sends us a hymn of life. She encourages us to love life and protect it in all phases, from conception to natural death.’ Cardinal Bertone finished his homily saying, ‘May the Most Blessed Mary Mother of Love, together with patron saints, and especially with the newly Blessed Sr. Marta, protect us from heaven. May God bless the Roman Catholic Metropolitan of Lviv; may he bless the representatives of various Christian churches gathered here; may he bless Ukraine and all her inhabitants. He said in Ukrainian, ‘May God be with you! Thank you very much. Thank you very much.’ The Mass was celebrated in Latin. The readings were in Polish and Ukrainian. The Gospel was sung by Roman Catholic deacons (in Polish) and Greek Catholic deacons (in Ukrainian). The prayer of the faithful was said in French, Spanish, English and Russian. The procession of gifts included family members of the newly Blessed Sr. Marta, inhabitants of Sniatyn, where she was buried, and some Daughters of Mercy; one of them wore an old religious habit.
Towards the end of the Eucharist Cardinal Bertone passed Cardinal Jaworski gifts of Benedict XVI: an ornate and a mitre with the papal coat of arms as a sign of unity in prayer. The liturgical commemoration of the Blessed Sr. Marta Wiecka will be celebrated on the day of her birth for heaven – 30 May.