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Polish nun’s journey to blessing

The beatification of sister Małgorzata Banaś (1896-1966), who bore the religious name Maria Małgorzata of the Heart of Jesus in Agony in Gethsemane and served in Nowogródek (Eastern Belarus), is getting closer and closer. Pope Francis approved a decree on the heroism of her virtues, the Vatican announced on Monday.

She was born at the end of the 19th century in Klecza Dolna near Wadowice. In her youth, she worked there in a hospital together with the Sisters of Nazareth.

In 1918, she began her novitiate. In 1937, she joined the Nazareth Sisters in Nowogródek, which was occupied by the Soviets after the outbreak of World War II. They took the nuns from school and forced them to leave the convent. Sister Małgorzata found a job in the hospital.

Together with other sisters, she conducted charity work. During WWII, in 1943, the Germans, who had entered the city two years earlier, shot and killed eleven of her congregation in the forest, and threw their bodies in a common grave. Sister Małgorzata later found him and looked after the grave. She lived knowing that she was the only survivor. She later avoided arrest.

After the war, the Soviet authorities in Belarus took steps to deprive Poles of the possibility of professing their faith. There was not a single priest within a radius of several dozen kilometres from Nowogrodek, only she stayed.

As it was emphasised in the biography of the Nazareth woman, she did everything to help the believers and to keep them religious. She lived in the sacristy and prepared children for the sacraments, gathered the faithful for prayer, organised spiritual and material help for those sent to Siberia.

She came to Poland for the first time in 1965. A year later, she died in Nowogródek and was buried in the local cemetery.

The Nazareth Sisters made efforts to begin her beatification process, to which the Vatican agreed in 2002.

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