Krakow, Poland, Nov 21, 2018 / 13:45 pm
Believed to be the “oldest nun in the world,” Polish Dominican nun Sister Cecylia Maria Roszak has died at the age of 110, the Archdiocese of Krakow has announced.
W Krakowie zmarła najstarsza siostra zakonna na świecie – Matka Cecylia Maria Roszak z klasztoru sióstr dominikanek „Na Gródku”. Z okazji 110. urodzin, które obchodziła 25 marca tego roku, odwiedził ją #abpMarekJędraszewski.@EpiskopatNews https://t.co/tUH8x8vvmW pic.twitter.com/vPj7CA0tyX— Archidiecezja Krakowska (@ArchKrakowska) November 16, 2018
Sr. Cecylia was born Maria Roszak on March 25, 1908 in the town of Kielczewo in west-central Poland. After graduating from trade school at the age of 21, she entered a cloistered convent of Dominican sisters in Krakow, at the "On Gródek” monastery, as it is commonly called.
In 1938, she traveled with a group of her sisters to Vilnius (now in Lithuania, but at the time a part of Poland) where the nuns were hoping to establish another convent. However, the outbreak of World War II prevented them from doing so.
For two years, Vilnius was under Soviet occupation, and then under German occupation after the invasion of the Nazis. During this time, Sr. Roszak and her sisters, led by their superior, Mother Bertranda, hid 17 members of the Jewish resistance in their convent, risking their lives to do so.
According to The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, the Jewish people who found refuge in the convent were members of the illegal Jewish Zionist underground movements.
“Despite the enormous difference between the two groups, very close relations were formed between the religious Christian nuns and the left-wing secular Jews. The pioneers found a safe haven behind the convent's walls; they worked with the nuns in the fields and continued their political activity. They called the mother superior of the convent Ima (Mother in Hebrew),” the Center states in a biographical page on Mother Bertranda, who eventually left the convent and became known as Anna Borkowska.
In 1941 the Jewish refugees decided to leave the convent and return to the Jewish ghetto to help establish the resistance there. Borkowska begged them to stay, and then begged to join them in the ghetto, and helped her friends smuggle weapons and supplies inside.