Blessed Karolina Kozka; 1898-1914
By Sister Irene Hartman, OP
Holy Ones of Our Time
Karolina Kozka was born to a farming family in Wal-Ruda, Poland, in 1898, and died during World War I. She was a teen-age martyr to her virginity, a victim of a Russian soldier. As a youth, Karolina attended daily Mass and spent much time in prayer. She became a catechist and taught religion to some children. Karolina was devoted to the sick and suffering, and assisted them by charitable visits and fervent prayer. When Karolina was 15, she received the sacrament of confirmation. This strengthened her for what lay ahead in her short life. Six months later, on Nov. 18, 1914, when World War I had just begun, Karolina was ambushed by a Russian soldier who attempted to rape her. She fled from him, but he pursued her and slew her, dragged her body through the woods, and finally hid it in some bushes. On Dec. 4 of that year, her body was discovered and a cross was placed on the spot where she had been murdered.
During a papal visit to Poland on June 10, 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Karolina. Her body was transferred from the parochial cemetery to a special tomb on the side of the parish church of Zabawa. Her relics are placed in the main altar and venerated by parishioners and visitors in a shrine in that church. In the parish church where she was buried initially, there is a monument to Jesus, and the place has become a favorite location for pilgrims.
Many people suffering from cancer, muscular atrophy, loss of faith and meaning in life, and other afflictions send their prayers heavenward and beg Blessed Karolina for healing. On the 18th of each month, pilgrims gather at the place of her martyrdom and pray the Stations of the Cross.
Blessed Karolina is regarded as a great example for the Third Millennium because of her humility, courage, and trust in God. She is a sign to those who are looking for the way to faith and those who want to become a saint. She is the patron of youths and farmers.