13 March 2018, The Tablet
Slovakia's Catholic Church is beatify a 16-year-old peasant girl, who was murdered while resisting rape by a Soviet soldier. Anna Kolesarova (1928-44), from a deeply devout family at Vysoke nad Uhom in eastern Slovakia, hid with her family in the cellar of their home when Red Army units occupied the area in the last year of the Second World War, and was shot after refusing the soldier's advances while making food.
A Church statement said she had "lived modestly and simply" while caring for her siblings when her mother died of pneumonia, as well as regularly attending Mass and receiving sacraments. It added that the grave, where she was hurriedly buried by the local priest, Fr Anton Lukac, had become a place of pilgrimage for young Slovaks since the late 1990s, and had attracted growing numbers since her seven-year beatification process, formally approved by the Pope on 6 March, was completed locally in 2012.
Kolesarova's beatification will bring to over 80 the number of communist-era Catholic martyrs honoured in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, who have included two bishops from Slovakia's Greek Catholic church, Pavol Gojdic (1888-1960) and Vasyl Hopko (1904-1976), as well as a Redemptorist priest, Dominick Trcka (1886-1959) and Holy Cross nun, Zdenka Schelingova (1916-1955).
A 16-year-old Catholic from neighbouring Poland, Karolina Kozka (1898-1914), who was also murdered for resisting rape by a Russian soldier, was beatified in 1987.
PICTURE: Young people from Slovakia in traditional attire sing as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 15 2017 ©CNS