Maria Restituta Kafka (1894-1943)
Sister Maria served the sick and she stood up to the Nazi regime despite the cost . . .
Feast Day: March 30
Beatified: June 21, 1998
The Nazis’ wickedness cowed many into silence, but not Maria Restituta. Born Helen Kafka, she grew up in Vienna, Austria. After leaving school at 15, Helen tried her hand at various jobs before settling on a nursing career with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.
Helen took the name Restituta after a martyr who had been beheaded. She worked as a surgical nurse, and her hospital’s best surgeon was difficult. Nobody wanted to work with him except Restituta. She was soon running his operating room. People called her “Sr. Resolute” because of her stubbornness. Mostly, however, Restituta was easy-going. After work, she’d visit the local pub and order goulash and “a pint of the usual.”
After Restituta hung a crucifix in every room of her hospital’s new wing, the Nazis ordered them taken down. She refused. The crucifixes stayed. However, when the Gestapo found anti-Nazi propaganda on her, she was sentenced to death for treason.
Restituta spent her remaining days ministering to other prisoners. As she approached the guillotine, her last words were, “I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ.”
BRIAN O’NEEL is a writer, husband and father of six living in southeast Pennsylvania. His latest book is 39 New Saints You Should Know.