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Another Maria Goretti: Veronica Antal to be first beatified Romanian woman

VERONICA ANTAL
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She will be recognized as Blessed on September 22

The oldest of four children, Veronica Antal was born December 7, 1935, in the town of Botesti located in the northeastern part of Romania. As was the custom, baby Veronica was baptized the next day on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The name Veronica was given her in honor of a paternal aunt who died as a child.

Veronica’s parents spent each day working in the fields from dawn until dusk. Consequently, raising Veronica fell to her grandmother, Zarafina. Her grandma not only cared for and raised Veronica, but she also instructed her in the faith. Her instruction and example inspired in Veronica a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

When Veronica was seven, she began school. As the next few years passed, the young girl did well, maintaining good grades. But before long she had to leave school to help her parents in the fields. It was also around this time that she felt called to become a nun and enter the convent. She also had a deep-seated desire to help children.

Unfortunately, in 1947 Romania fell under a Marxist-Leninist one-party Communist rule. This secular form of oppressive government was anti-religious and did all it could to stop religious practices. Veronica’s hopes of entering a convent were dashed when the government began shutting down all convents and monasteries in Romania.

Following the advice and guidance of her spiritual director, Alois Donea, Virginia joined the Secular Franciscan Order. It was at this time that she also made a vow of virginity. Veronica also joined the Militia Immaculatae, which was founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe. It was not long after when she discovered a book about the life of  St. Maria Goretti. She fell in love with Maria’s story and even told some friends that she wanted to be like her.

Veronica would get up early and walk five miles every day to attend Mass. It did not matter how hot it was or how cold; she was going to receive Christ in the Eucharist. She prayed the Rosary every day, read all she could about the saints, and built a small prayer “cell” next to her house so she would have a private place to pray.

Other than her quiet spirituality, Veronica was just like any other young woman her age. She worked with her mom spinning wool, sewed clothing, and worked the fields. She was always quick to forgive anyone who might have done her harm. She visited the sick and the lonely and babysat for moms who fell ill. She even helped teach the First Communicants about Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

On August 24, 1958, Veronica received her Confirmation from Bishop Petru Plesca. After the service was over she put everything away in the sacristy and then shared a meal with some of her friends. After dinner was finished she began her walk back home. A young man named Pavel Mocanu began to follow her and harass her.

He was quite drunk, and when Veronica resisted his advances, he began to force himself on her. He mocked her sense of chastity and hit her. She fought back and he became enraged. He dragged her into a cornfield and tried to rape her. As she fought back furiously, he began to stab her.

He thought she was dead and left. But he came back, most likely to bury her, but found her still alive. He began stabbing her again and again, stabbing her a total of 42 times. He left her body with two stalks of corn on her chest in the form of a cross.

Her body was not found for two days. She was discovered face down, covered in blood. Clutched tightly in her hands was her Rosary. An autopsy proved that the murderer had failed in his quest to rape Veronica. The people of the area, upon hearing of the horrible crime, immediately pronounced Veronica a martyr.

Pope Francis confirmed on January 26, 2018, that she would be beatified, declaring that Veronica Antal died “In Defensum Caritatis” meaning “In Defense of Charity.” On September 22, Venerable Veronica Antal will officially become Blessed Veronica Antal.

Blessed Veronica, pray for us all.

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