November 11: Blessed Alice (Maria Jadwiga) Kotowska

blessed-alice-maria-jadwiga-kotowska-nov-11Blessed Alice (Maria Jadwiga) Kotowska

Warsaw, Poland, November 20, 1899-Piasnica at Wejherowo, November 11, 1939

Blessed Alice  was born in Warsaw on November 20, 1899 as the second of eight children.  She lived during the time of struggle for freedom in Poland, a time full of hope, that Poland would be finally free from the captivity of other nations.  God and Country – these were her two great loves throughout her entire life.

After the outbreak of the war in 1918 she became a member of the Organized Polish Army where she found occasions to give of herself for the good of her Country.  It was during that year that she began studies in medicine at the University of Warsaw.  As a Red Cross nurse, she used her knowledge to bring solace to the wounded soldiers during the invasion of the Bolsheviks in 1920.  For her dedication she was awarded a medal of “Poland Restored.”

In 1922 before completing her medical studies, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection.  In her request for acceptance, she wrote:  “I desire to live and die for Christ, for He is the Greatest Love, Lord, God and my All.”

After professing her vows she was directed to work in the educational seminary conducted by the Congregation in Warsaw, while at the same time, she was to complete her philosophical studies in the area of chemistry.  Bound to God by her vows, she strove zealously to remain faithful to Him. Bound to the Congregation, she made heroic efforts to live its charism and to fulfill its apostolic goals.  She undertook work in teaching and education first in Warsaw and then as the Directress of the grammar school in Wejherowo.

How did she merit to be numbered among the martyrs?  One can most probably respond with:  her heroic fidelity to God and the Gospel as well as her total dedication to the service of people.  On October 24, 1939, two Gestapo soldiers came to the convent of the Sisters in Wejherowo with orders to arrest Sister Alice.  She had been warned a few days previously about the possibility of arrest.  She could have escaped but did not do so because she would not save herself at the cost of being an instrument of suffering for others.  She did not want to leave the Sisters in the local community of which she was the superior.  As soon as she was arrested, she knew that she had been betrayed by the school  custodian.  The last words which the Sisters heard at the time of her arrest, were the evangelical words of forgiveness:  I forgive Francis for everything.

On the day on which she was put to death, an eyewitness related how Sister Alice performed still another heroic act of love, of concern for others.  This regarded a group of Jewish children who were destined like her to be put to death in the forest of Piasnica.  As she left the prison, she saw the group of frightened, terrified children.  She ran to them, took them by the hand and walked with them into the waiting truck.

She was shot to death on November 11, 1939 on the anniversary of Armistice Day.  It was not accidental that her death is the offering of her life for “two Loves” – God and Country.

Blessed Alice’s  beatification came 100 years after her birth  and sixty years after her martyrdom.   What a day of great joy and humble thanksgiving for the Congregation.  It is “a day of tremendous Resurrection hope.”

SOURCE: Resurrection Sisters

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