Blessed Mary Restituta Kafka


(1894 - 1943)

Memorial : 30 March

Blessed Maria Restituta also known as Helen Kafka, Helena Kafka, Maria Restituta Kafka, Sister Restituta was born Helena Kafka (ty: Helene) on 1 May 1894 in the village Husovice (ty: Hussowitz) just outside Brno (ty: Brünn), the capital of Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic, which was then part of Austria-Hungary. She was baptized on 13 May on this church of Assumption in Brno. She was the sixth of seven children of a shoemaker Anton Kafka and his wife Maria. They both came from Catholic family backgrounds . Anton had met his wife, while he was a guest worker in Vienna. They married in 1887 at the Church of St. Leopold in Vienna, but returned in 1892 back to Brno.

In 1896 the family moved permanently to Vienna and settled in the working area Brigittenau, where thousands of Czech immigrants lived. Helena was an average pupil at the local primary school, received her First Communion at the Church of St. Brigitta age 11 in May 1905, and then began working in the three-year middle school for girls, known as Protective Angel school because it had a large statue of a Guardian Angel of entrance. She was cured of a severe stuttering using the drastic treatment that the teacher forbade her to say a word of three months.

She left school at the age in 1909, she worked as a servant and two years in a tobacco shop. She was confirmed person (confirmed) in May 1911 at St. Brigitta. Later she told her around this time decided to join a nursing order "to help those who are suffering and who are in desperate need of help." In 1913, it opened a new hospital in the district Lainz in Vienna. A Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters were asked to staff it with nurses. Congregation was Franziskanerinnen von der Christ Lichen Nächstenliebe , "Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity" (Congregation Sororum Tertio Ordinis Sancti Francisci a caritat Christiana - SFCC), which was founded in 1857 in Vienna. As the motherhouse was in Hartmann-street in Vienna, they colloquially known as "Hartmann sisters" (Hartmannschwestern) .

Helena started in 1913 to work at the hospital in Lainz unskilled nursing assistants and nurses could thus observe up close. When she came home one evening, she asked for parental permission to join the congregation, but for some reason they refused. Her mother was the most strongly opposed to this, and she tried to convince Helena to change my mind. But in 1914, when she was 19 and still not eighteen, she ran away from home and went to Hartmann Sisters Mother House. Not long afterwards accepted the situation and parents gave permission for their daughter joined the congregation.

However, they were not able to obtain the required dowry, so the Superior searched archdiocese about a legacy. Helena was still a postulant when World War I broke out in 1914. The wounded that poured in from the front lines, she soon started to work in the operating room. She began the novitiate on 23 October 1915 and took the name Mary Restituta by the old martyr Restituta of Sora , who was beheaded for their faith around 272 under Emperor Aurelian (270-75) and originally buried in the catacombs.

Maria Restituta made his first vows on 23 October 1916. She then worked for twenty years as a surgical nurse, first in the hospital Naunkirchen and then back in Lainz. After the war, in May 1919, there was a claim of an operation sister from District Hospital in Mödling, a market town south of Vienna. The surgeon there was clever, but he was known to be nervous, moody and difficult to work with. Maria Restituta volunteered for the position, and she was soon in charge of the operating room there. She was a first class operation and anesthesia nurse.

She soon became known as "Sr. Resolute, "because small and round as she was (in peacetime she weighed 90 kg), it was not wise to argue with her when she first decided. But she was too easygoing and caring and had a great sense of humor. After a tiring workday she used to go round to his local tavern and order a "goulash and a pint of the ordinary," that is, her favorite beer. She soon earned a reputation not only as a devoted and skilled nursing, but also as one who stood the poor, the persecuted and the oppressed especially close. She protected and even a Nazi doctor from an arrest she thought was unjustified.

When the Nazis in 1938 marched into Austria (Anschluss) , did sr. Restituta it very clear that she rejected Nazism completely. She called Hitler a "madman" and said of himself: "A wiener inside can not keep your mouth shut." She highlighted his opposition to church persecution, Jewish persecution, political persecution and other atrocities that the Nazis were guilty of, and she was soon regarded as an enemy of the Nazi regime.

One of the first steps the Nazis took was to close over 1,400 institutions that were under religious control. More than 200 monasteries were closed, all Catholic associations and youth organizations were disbanded and countless social institutions were taken over. Sr. Maria Restituta were allowed to continue their work, but her hospital was put under the control of the staff who were loyal to the new government.

Soon after the Anschluss was all religious activity on the sick huts prohibited, but sr. Maria Restituta continued to pray with the dying, and when it was possible, she ensured that they received the last sacraments in secret. SS doctor Lambert Stumfohl was a fanatical Nazi, but he knew he could not continue without her, so he did not dare to report her.

Her reputation spread rapidly when she hung a crucifix in every room of the newly opened surgical department of the hospital where she worked. The Nazis demanded that the crosses had to be removed and threatened to have her removed. But crucifixes were not removed, and it was not the adventurous sister, since her kommunitet said they could not replace her. But when she was caught in the act when she asked a secretary to copy an anti-Nazi view and a flyer from the resistance Weiße Rose on the typewriter, was too much for Dr. Stumfohl, who called the Gestapo.

On Ash Wednesday the 18th February 1942 came a squad SS soldiers and arrested her, and she was accused not only of having hung crucifixes, but also to have written a poem that made fun of Hitler. She sat for over a year in prison, where she gave most of their meager rations to others who needed them more, and in this way she saved the life of a pregnant mother and her child.

The 28 October 1942 was Maria Restituta sentenced to death for "landsforræderisk beneficiary of the enemy and preparation for high treason" (landesverräterischer Feindbegünstigung und zum Vorbereitung Hochverrat) . She was later tried lid with better detention conditions and even release if she would enter the second or withdraw its order, but she refused. Many people tried to save her, right up to the Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna. However, an application that death sentence should be reversed, was rejected by Martin Bormann with the words: "I believe that the execution of the death sentence is required as an effective deterrent." The next five weeks took Maria Restituta care of the other prisoners in the jail, which even communist prisoners later testified. She weighed to finish about half of their weight in peacetime.

Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka.  Photo 18.11.1942. After several requests for mercy was rejected by the government, was sr. Maria Restituta 30 March 1943 led to the scaffold. She went to the guillotine with his hands tied behind his back and just wearing a paper shirt. The prison chaplain, Father Ivanek CSSR did follow her to the door of the death chamber, and she got him to draw her sign of the cross on the forehead before she went inside. He heard a thud as the blade fell. Her last words were witnessed: "I have lived for Christ, I would die for Christ."

Maria Restituta was the only track sister among the citizens of the so-called Greater German Reich who was beheaded. Fearing that she was honored as a martyr, the Nazis refused to hand over her body, which was thrown into a mass grave.

Today, the district hospital in Mödling a large nursery. In 1995, the street where the hospital is, renamed to "Sr. Restituta Street, "so all children born in the hospital, carrying her name on their birth certificates. Hartmann sisters have three houses in Austria and five in Argentina, one in Paraguay and Brazil.

For many years there was resistance to her beatification in Austria, but eventually it became possible to start the process on 4 November 1998 in the Hartmann Sisters Mother House in Vienna, and her story became widely known. On 6 April 1998, signed by Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) decree from the Congregation for Saints who recognized her martyrdom and that gave her the title Falzon , "dignified".

She was beatified by Pope 21 June 1998 on "Heroes' Square" (Heldenplatz) in Vienna together with the Blessed Antonius Maria Schwartz and Jacob Kern during the Pope's visit to Austria. During the beatification process was a little bit of her costume instead of the usual relics in a glassrelikvar given to the Pope. It was all that could be found of her mortal remains. Her feast day is the day of death 30 March, but in Austria celebrated her 29th October, which is the day of the death sentence.

I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ. - Blessed Mary’s last recorded words

Sources : Butler (III), Index99, KIR, Patron Saints SQPN, Infocatho, Bautz, Heiligenlexikon, EWTN / OR,,,, - Compilation and Translation : p  Per Einar Odden  

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