KOSICE, Slovakia — With all of the press coverage in recent weeks ahead of the high-profile canonizations Oct. 14, namely of St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, the beatification of a young Slovak laywoman seemed to slip under the radar.
Anna Kolesarova was beatified Sept. 1 in Kosice, Slovakia. Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, beatified the young martyr in Lokomotiva Stadium. About 30,000 people attended.
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life said Pope Francis had officially recognized her martyrdom in defense of bodily chastity, “a trait that unites her to other young martyrs, including St. Maria Goretti.”
According to the dicastery website, Kolesarova was born in 1928 and, though her mother died when Kolesarova was 13 years old, she led a quiet existence in a small Slovak village near the Ukrainian boarder, until the soldiers of the Red Army came and occupied it.
She left the shelter where she was hiding with her family to prepare food for a soldier, but she repeatedly rejected his advances, preferring to die rather than give herself to him. She was only 16 when, on Nov. 22, 1944, she was shot and killed in front of her family for resisting rape by a drunken soldier. She died invoking Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Kolesarova “embodies the faithful layperson living in their family, regularly receiving sacraments, praying the rosary and approaching God through good works. Her heroic testimony, drawn from a sincere spiritual life, is something every Catholic and believer can aspire to,” said Archbishop Bernard Bober of Kosice, Slovakia, in an interview with Catholic News Service.
In a pastoral letter, read in churches Aug. 19, the Slovak bishops’ conference said Kolesarova had been “fully aware, despite her young age” of what awaited her, and had instinctively “followed the voice of conscience.”