Wife, Mother, and Martyr (1888-1943)
+ Marianna Czokala was born in Lipsk, Poland. Because she received little formal education, she was functionally illiterate, reading only a little, and she could not write.
+ Raised in the Orthodox Faith, she converted to Catholicism at the age of 17.
+ At the age of 20, she married Ludwik Biernacki. The couple would have six children, only two of whom survived infancy.
+ After the death of her husband, she moved in with her son, Stanislaw, to help raise her grandchildren.
+ When the Nazis and Soviets divided Poland during World War II, Marianna’s town came under German control. Because of resistance fighting, the Nazis initiated a series of reprisal executions, choosing random citizens for death.
+ On June 1, 1943, the Nazis arrested Marianna’s son and his pregnant wife, Anna, and included them among those to be killed. Marianna pleaded to be able to take her daughter-in-law’s place and Anna was freed. Marianna asked only that she be allowed to keep her rosary.
+ Blessed Marianna Biernacki was shot to death on June 13, 1943, in Naumovichi, Belarus. She was Beatified in 107 other Polish Martyrs of World War II in 1999.
On this day the Church also remembers Saint Onuphrius (also known as Humphrey), who lived as a hermit in the deserts of Egypt for more than 70 years. Seeking to imitate the prayer and sacrifice of Saint John the Baptist, he was honored for his wisdom and ascetical spirit. Saint Onuphrius died around the year 400.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”—John 15:13
O God, by whose gift strength is made perfect in weakness, grant to all who honor the glory of blessed Marianna 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.