Feast Day : 15 December
Drina Martyrs are the professed Sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Charity, murdered because of their faith in Bosnia and Hercegovina between 15–23 December 1941.
Their names were
Marija Jula (Kata) Ivanišević,
Marija Bernadeta (Terezija) Banja,
Marija Krizina (Josefa) Bojanc,
Marija Antonija (Josefa)
Maria Berchmana (Carolina Anna) Leidenix.
In the war year of 1941 the following sisters were sent by their superiors to serve at the Pale convent of Daughters of Divine Charity: Sr. M. Jula Ivanišević (Croat, born in 1893) as superior of the community, Sr. M. Berchmana Leidenix (Austrian, born in 1865), Sr. M. Krizina Bojanc (Slovene, born in 1885), Sr. M. Antonija Fabjan (Slovene, born in 1907) and Sr. M. Bernadeta Banja (Croat, born in 1912). Through their life and work the sisters witnessed to effective Christian charity in the spirit of their Congregation. With self-abnegation they served the sick and magnanimously gave bread to the orphans of the nearby state-run home, making no distinctions according to religious or ethnic affiliation. They also helped the poor and the beggars who came down from Romanija Mountain.
During this period the country known as Yugoslavia was undergoing the early stages of civil war. Croatia had declared its independence and become a Nazi puppet state. Croatian and Serbian nationalists began to target one another, and the nuns were caught in the crossfire, as they were, fairly or not, identified as being on the side of Catholic Croatia. On 11 December 1941, Serb nationalist forces broke into the convent looted the house, and burned it down. They took the five sisters against their will and forced them to walk in the direction of Goražde. These nationalists were "allegedly" under the command of one Jezdimir Dangić.
Their suffering began in freezing temperatures under snowy conditions without proper winter clothing. Their first stop was the place Careve Vode, before moving on to Sjetlina, where the 76 year old Sister Berchmana, exhausted from the forced march and all the events, was separated from the group and forced to remain behind. Sisters Jula, Krizina, Antonija and Bernardeta were then forced onward to Goražde.
Their journey took four days and four nights from Pale to Goražde over Romanija Mountain. They reached Goražde on the afternoon of 15 December 1941 and were placed in a room on the second floor of the barracks. On that same evening, the unrestrained Serbian nationalists guerillas, in a drunken state broke into their room and, with impure intentions, assaulted them. In order to defend their human dignity and consecrated chastity, the sisters broke loose from the hands of their aggressors and one by one jumped out through the window. Several of the men rushed to the front of the barracks and seeing that the sisters were hurt, killed them with their knives and threw their bodies into the River Drina where they were carried down stream some days later.
Sister Berchmana remained at Sjetlina for about ten days where she recovered significantly. She was told that she would join the other sisters at Goražde but the others had already been killed. Two men put her in their sleigh pretending to take her to Goražde. Upon their return, the driver told the villagers that the sister had safely joined the other sisters, while one of them had her rosary around his neck. According to a written statement, she was killed on 23 December 1941.
Because of their Martyrdom pope Benedict XVI announced, 14 January 2011, promulgation of decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and beatification followed on 24 September 2011 in Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina), in the Olympic hall Zetra.
Catholic priest Franc Ksaver Meško, a Slovenian writer, first wrote about the Drina Martyrs. Ante Baković, a Croatian writer and also a priest, also wrote a book documenting their story.