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The Servant of God Robert Schuman (1886-1963), founding father of Europe and first president of the European Parliament The Servant of God Robert Schuman (1886-1963), founding father of Europe and first president of the European Parliament 

Robert Schuman, father of European unity, on path to sainthood

Pope Francis has authorized the promulgation of a Decree advancing the causes for canonization of European statesman Robert Schuman, as well as ten Polish nuns martyred by Soviet troops at the end of World War II. The heroic virtues of a number of other holy men and women were also officially recognized.

By Vatican News staff writer

The Church has recognised the heroic virtues of Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of European unity, thus according him the title “Venerable.”

At an audience for the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Pope Francis authorized the dicastery to promulgate the Decree advancing his cause, along with the causes of four other Venerables and eleven future Blesseds, including ten martyred Polish nuns, who were killed in odium Fidei (in hatred of the Faith) in Poland in 1945 during the invasion by Soviet troops.

Schuman: Politics as mission and service

Robert Schuman (1886-1963) was a French Catholic committed to politics – understood as a mission and a service, and as an act of obedience to God's will – who lived in prayer and was nourished by the daily Eucharist. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo from 14 September 1940 to 12 April 1941. He managed to escape and lived in hiding until the end of the war, taking refuge mainly in convents and monasteries. At the end of the war, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of France in 1945 and 1946. As a member of parliament, he took on important roles in the French government: Minister of Finance, Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice, becoming a moral point of reference for the country and working for the creation of a common system of economic and social growth. Together with Konrad Adenauer and Alcide De Gasperi, he is considered one of the founding fathers of a united Europe. Their work led to the Treaty of Rome of 25 March 1957, which established the European Economic Community. In 1958 he was elected by acclamation as the first President of the new European Parliament. The following year he was struck down by a severe form of cerebral sclerosis. Unable to continue his work, he was appointed honorary president of the European Parliamentary Assembly. He died in Scy-Chazelles (France) on 4th September 1963, at the age of 77.

Ten Sisters martyred during the Soviet occupation in Poland

With the recognition of their martyrdom, ten religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Elizabeth, who were killed in Poland during the Soviet occupation at the end of the Second World War, are set to be beatified. Nine are Polish: Paschalina Jahn, Maria Edelburgis Kubitzki, Maria Rosaria Schilling, Maria Adela Schramm, Maria Sabina Thienel, Maria Sapientia Heymann, Maria Adelheidis Töpfer, Maria Melusja Rybka, Maria Acutina Goldberg. Maria Felicitas Ellmerer was born in Germany. They were all brutally murdered by Red Army soldiers in different places, between February and May 1945, while carrying out their service of caring for the sick and elderly. One of them, Sr Maria Rosaria Schilling, was raped by about 30 soldiers and killed the next day. The Soviet military's rage against the nuns manifested their hatred of the faith and in particular of Catholics. Indoctrinated with an atheist and Marxist culture, they used rape as a weapon of humiliation against those wearing the religious habit. Aware of the risks they were running, none of the sisters was willing to abandon their mission at the side of their people. The faithful immediately considered them martyrs. Their tombs are still visited by many pilgrims.

Father Jeningen, soul of the Marian Shrine of Schönenberg

Among those who will be beatified is German Jesuit priest Johann Philipp Jeningen, who lived in the 17th century (1642-1704) and succeeded in transforming a small chapel dedicated to the Mother of God on the hill of Schönenberg in the Duchy of Württemberg into a popular Marian shrine, the destination of many pilgrimages.

One priest and three nuns among new Venerables

Among the other Venerables are: Italian priest Severino Fabriani, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Providence for Deaf-mutes (1792-1857); Russian nun Angela Rosa Godecka, founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1861-1937), with the charism of caring for factory workers; Italian nun Orsola Donati, of the Congregation of the Minimal Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (1849-1935); and Spanish nun Maria Stella di Gesù, of the Congregation of the Religious of Mary Immaculate (1899-1982).

19 June 2021, 13:48