World’s Oldest Nun, Who Saved Jewish Children From Nazis, Passes Away At Age 110

A wooden casket rests in a church.
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A woman in Poland, who is believed to be the oldest nun alive, has passed away at the age of 110. The woman is said to have saved Jewish children from the Nazis by hiding them.

Identified as Sister Cecylia Roszak, the woman passed away on Friday in the Dominican convent in the city of Krakow, Poland. Per a report by the Daily Mail, she had been living in the same city for 90 years.

Sister Roszak was in her late 40s when the Second World War broke out. She provided shelter to local Jews in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where she was traveling along with other nuns.

A lot of Jewish children were left orphaned after the Nazis mercilessly killed their parents during the Holocaust. To save the children from being targeted by the Nazis, Roszak — and other nuns from her order — hid two Jewish children, the Daily Mail report said.

Per reports published in local Polish newspapers, the nuns saved the lives of around a dozen Jews — including some who later became activists in the underground resistance movements in Vilnius, and in the Polish capital of Warsaw.

Among those who were helped by Roszak was writer Aba Kowner, who, according to the Daily Mail report, “later became the first intended victim of the Holocaust to identify Hitler’s plan to murder all Jews.”

In 1943, Roszak’s superior was arrested by the German authorities — and the convent was shut down. As the war came to an end, she returned to Krakow in Poland, where she stayed and developed a keen interest in current affairs, the report detailed.

Sister Cecylia was honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations for her wartime efforts in 1984 — a title that Israel uses to refer to people who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews.

According to a spokesman for the convent where Sister Cecylia served, she was full of youthfulness, vitality, and a great sense of humor — despite her age and a recent hip and knee operation.

When she was questioned about her long life, she replied that “one should pray and learn languages,” local media reports stated her as saying. A few years ago, she also left a message for her fellow sisters, and said that “Life is beautiful but short.”

Born as Maria on March 25, 1908, in Kielczew — within the Greater Poland voivodeship of western Poland — Sister Cecylia graduated from the State Trade and Industrial School for Women in Poznan, the report said. At the age of 21, she became part of the Dominican cloister in Krakow, where she made her first religious vows and took the name Cecylia.