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Pope Francis approves beatification for Polish family who saved Jews

Pope Francis beatified Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, who were killed along with their children by the Nazis in 1944 for sheltering Jews in Poland. Photo courtesy of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance

Pope Francis beatified Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, who were killed along with their children by the Nazis in 1944 for sheltering Jews in Poland. Photo courtesy of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance

Dec. 17 (UPI) — Pope Francis on Saturday signed a decree approving the beatification of a Polish family who were killed by Nazis for hiding Jews during World War II.

On March 24, 1944, German Nazi forces surrounded Józef and Wiktoria Ulma’s home in the town of Markowa, Poland, after they were betrayed to police for hiding eight Jews.

The Nazi soldiers killed the refugee and went on to kill Józef and Wiktoria, along with their six children — Stanisława, Barbara, Władysław, Franciszek, Antoni and Maria. Wiktoria was seven months pregnant when she was killed and it is believed that she went into labor at the moment of the executions, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The Ulmas were previously recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in 1995. The Markowa Ulma-Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in World War II was opened in 2018.

Twelve years ago, Józef and Wiktoria were posthumously awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by then-Polish President Lech Kaczyński.

Pope Francis’ beatification decree means the Ulmas are on course to officially attain sainthood in 2023.

Francis also advanced 15 other cases for canonization, including Matteo Ricci, a 17th century Jesuit missionary in China.

Earlier this year Francis beatified Pope John Paul II, another prominent Polish citizen.

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