Karolina Kózka (2 August 1898 – 18 November 1914) was a Polish teenager who has been beatified as a virgin-martyr by the Roman Catholic Church. She died while resisting an attempted rape by a Russian soldier.
She was almost immediately venerated by people in her hometown following her death. Efforts to have her declared a saint began in 1965. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.
She is sometimes called the Polish Maria Goretti.
Born on August 2, 1898, Karolina Kozka was one of eleven children, although sources conflict about her being the 4th, 7th, or 8th born. Her parents were Jan and Maria Borzecka Kozka of Poland. The family lived in the Wal-Ruda and was part of the Diocese of Tarnow. From 1904–1912, Karolina attended the classes at the local school.
She grew up in a Catholic family who prayed everyday and displayed the love of God to her. Often, Karolina would gather neighbors and relatives, mainly children, and they would read the Scriptures together under a pear tree near her home. She loved praying the rosary, using the beads given to her by her mother. Her prayers often caused her to get less sleep than she needed. “Often during the day she quietly whispered the words, ‘Hail Mary!’ as she herself often said, because they made her ‘feel a great joy in her heart’”.
She would pray the rosary constantly, and even though it was a long walk to Mass, she would go during the week, in addition to Sunday. Karolina’s uncle, Franciszek Borzecki, was one inspiration for her faith. Because of her love for serving, she helped her uncle in the library, and she also helped organize things at her parish. In addition to serving the Church, she taught her younger siblings and the children of the area their catechism. By age 16, Karolina was a beautiful, enthusiastic girl.Martyrdom
In 1914, World War I broke out in Poland, affecting the Kozka family forever. The Russian army began capturing cities, and in November 1914, they controlled Wal-Ruda. The situation grew worse as stories spread of the soldiers stealing possessions and raping women. Fear spread through the city. On November 18, an armed Russian soldier came to their house, and he ordered Karolina and her father to go with him, saying he was taking them to the commanding officer.
When the trio reached the edge of the forest, the soldier commanded Karolina’s father to return home. The man went back to his home, leaving his daughter in the clutches of the Russian. Two boys on their way back from the village witnessed the attack of the soldier on Karolina. He attempted to force himself on her, but she struggled and refused to give in. Angered, the man stabbed her with his bayonet multiple times. Karolina ran towards the swamps, which saved her from further attacks since the chase was difficult for the soldier. When he saw her fall, he gave up the chase. But it was too late for Karolina; the wounds inflicted on her by the soldier had caused too much blood loss. She died in the swamps, her purity intact. Karolina was only 16.Cause for beatification
It was not until December 4, 16 days later, that her body was found. After she was buried, the local villagers came to pray at her tomb and also at the site of her death. In February 1965, Bishop Jerzy Ablewicz submitted her cause for beatification and canonization (and also her martyrdom) to be looked at. On June 10, 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Karolina in Tarnow, Poland, as a martyr for Christ, making her “Blessed Karolina Kozka.”
Since her beatification, Karolina’s relics have been placed in the main altar and are venerated by parishioners and pilgrims who visit her shrine every year. When people visit her house, they will find that it has been reconstructed into a museum format, where visitors can learn more about this courageous young woman.
Blessed Karolina has not been made a saint yet, but there have been a few miracles, which is the next step to declaring her a saint. Each month on the 10th day, there is a service at her Shrine to pray that she will be canonized soon. She is an example of purity and courage in our society today.
Known as the “Maria Goretti of Poland”, “The Blessed Karolina is regarded by [most of the] people, parishioners, and pilgrims as well, as the great example to people of the Third Millennium because of her humility, courage, and trust in God. She is a sign for those who are looking for the way of salvation, who want to become saint[s]. She is the patron of youths and farmers.
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