Religious Sister and Martyr (1916-1955)
+ Cecilia was born in Krivá na Orave, Slovakia. After completing her elementary education, she studied nursing and radiology. She eventually discerned a call to religious life and professed vows as a Sister of Charity of the Holy Cross in 1837, receiving the religious name Zdenka.
+ Sister Zdenka served as a radiology nurse in Humenné and Bratislava. When the communists seized Bratislava, they began a systematic persecution of priests and religious. Many of those who had been tortured were brought to Zdenka’s hospital for treatment.
+ In early 1952, Sister Zdenka helped a condemned priest escape and on February 29 she was arrested after trying to help three priests and three seminarians escape. After being tortured she was sentenced to twelve years in prison and ten years of loss of her civil rights.
+ For three years she was sent from prison to prison and was regularly beaten and tortured. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she was released from prison early so she would not die in government custody. When she returned to her community’s motherhouse, the sisters refused to admit her because of fear of reprisals. She was finally able to gain access to a hospital and died there on July 31, 1955.
+ Because of the suffering she endured, she is honored as a martyr and was beatified in 2003.
Beatified in the same ceremony as Blessed Zdenka was Blessed Basil Hopko, a martyr and bishop of the Slovak Greek Catholic Church who died in 1976.
“I want to do God’s will without paying attention to myself, my comfort or my rest.”—Blessed Zdenka Schelingová
O God, by whose gift strength is made perfect in weakness, grant to all who honor the glory of blessed Zdenka that she, who drew from you the strength to triumph, may likewise always obtain from you the grace of victory for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Holy Woman Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.