Meet Bl. Sara Salkahazi, My Kinda Saint

I just learned her story over on the Book of Face repeatedly, and I love her so much!:

Meet Bl. Sara Salkahazi, a chain-smoking journalist who became a misfit Sister, a Nazi-defying rescuer of Jews, and a martyr.

Born to an upper-class Hungarian family, Bl. Sara was something of a wild thing, a strong-willed tomboy who trained as a teacher but later left the classroom out of a desire to be more united to the working poor.

When Bl. Sara met the Sisters of Social Service, she was an agnostic socialist journalist but was overcome by a sense of call. It was through this call to religious life that she met Jesus, but when she applied to the order she was rejected because she was a chain-smoker. It took her a year to kick the habit, after which she was accepted into the order.

Still, she didn’t quite fit. She was too loud, too big, too much. The Sisters thought she was trying to draw attention to herself when she was just trying to be who God made her to be. She wasn’t permitted to make vows with the rest of her group and was even told not to wear the habit for a year, the Sisters not wanting to be associated with this problem-like-Maria. Around this time, Sr. Sara wrote this:

I am short-tempered, vehement, nervous and passionate but still I love you!
I am disobedient, stubborn and defiant yet I love you!
I am restless, hasty and confused but I love you!
I am dark, envious and making comparison but I love you!

Sr. Sara persisted. Ultimately, she was permitted to make vows and became a powerful worker in the vineyard, publishing a Catholic women’s periodical, establishing a working-class women’s college, and running a Catholic bookstore in addition to all her charitable works. She changed her name to the more Hungarian-sounding Salkahazi to needle the Nazis, and began to work to hide Jews and smuggle them to safety. She’s credited with single-handedly saving at least 100 Jewish lives during WWII and was declared Righteous Among the Nations for her work.

In 1944, Bl. Sara was returning to the home where she was hiding Jews and saw Nazi soldiers. Rather than save herself, she chose to die with those she loved. She approached, was arrested, stripped, and shot on the banks of the Danube, a misfit, a martyr, and a Saint. (And a real kindred spirit!)

I love her so much, and I especially love that prayer! I love saints who are the Real Deal.

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8 Responses

  1. 27 December 1944: The Russians are in East-Prussia, the Americans have destroyed the last significant reserves of German armor in the Ardennes. By any metric the war has been long lost, and they are shooting nuns on the bank of the Dabube. Baffling.

    1. your observation is interesting. it’s utter madness isn’t it? evil must be resisted; however, i think we don’t realize that the journey through the valley of evil is also a journey through madness. we get so nervous; we’re afraid that by acknowledging evil elicits it’s own form of madness we will mess up culpability and justice, but the fact of the matter is evil is madness. those soldiers had nothing to gain, but their hatred of the Chosen was both madness itself and elicited and ever greater and greater degree of madness.

      1. @Myshkin

        Yes, I think you are right. Evil rebounds on itself and so it is madnesss. From a Christian point of view, it is also the work of he who wishes to destroy us body and soul. What we see, especially in the last 6-7 months of the war, is a people bent on self-destruction, almost as if convinced that in the great Darwinian struggle they were meant to lose, but … at least the Jews would lose out more.

    2. It was even worse (I’m an amateur historian of 1945 Germany). The Nazi fanatics were literally executing townspeople who wanted to surrender their towns hours before the Americans captured it in the last days of the war. How do you fight such insanity?

  2. Re the series – no, sorry. The Wehrmacht tended to be the sane ones during the last days. They fought, yes, but in most cases they weren’t the fanatics. The fanatics, and executioners, were the dedicated Nazis (including civilian Bürgermeisters), SS, and sadly Hitler Youth who had been indoctrinated for years. During that time frame (the last month of the war), Goebbels had his own radio program calling on Germans to fight to the death (“Victory or Death”). By then, most Germans (including soldiers) were more interested in surviving the war and ending it. Now, to be honest, that was the attitude of the troops fighting the Americans, Brits, French. The ones on the Eastern Front fought all the harder to allow civilians (and soldiers) to get away from the Soviets whose savagery toward civilians, including (especially?) women and children, was well known.

  3. And now in our own time of smuggling the children of God, I heartily recommend a very timely book for the present: “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins

    You will weep.

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