A woman believed to be the world’s oldest nun who helped hide Jewish children from the Nazis has died at the age of 110.
Sister Cecylia Roszak died on Friday in the Dominican convent in the city of Krakow, southern Poland, where she had been a resident for nearly 90 years.
During the Second World War, Roszak, who was then in her late 40s, helped to shelter local Jews in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, having travelled there along with other sisters from her order.
Sister Cecylia Roszak (pictured left and, right, in her younger years), who was believed to be the world’s oldest nun, has died at the age of 110
Sister Cecylia Roszak passed away on Friday in the Dominican convent (pictured) in the city of Krakow, southern Poland, where she had been a resident for decades
During the Second World War, Roszak (pictured), who was then in her late 40s, helped to shelter local Jews at a convent in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius which she had set up in 1938 with a group of fellow sisters on a five-hectare farm where she was when war broke out
Together with the other nuns, they hid two Jewish children whose parents were murdered during the Holocaust.
According to reports in Poland, the nuns helped around a dozen Jews, including some who would later go on to become activists in the underground resistance movements in Vilnius and Warsaw.
Among those she helped was writer Aba Kowner, who later became the first intended victim of the Holocaust to identify Hitler’s plan to murder all Jews.
In 1943, the German authorities arrested Sister Cecylia’s superior and closed down the convent.
Cecylia Roszak is pictured alongside Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski on her 110th birthday in March
A spokesman for the convent told local media that despite her age and recent hip and knee operations, Sister Cecylia (bottom right) had been full of vitality, youthfulness and maintained a great sense of humour
After the war, she returned to Krakow where she stayed, developing a keen interest in current affairs.
In 1984, she was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations for her wartime efforts – a title used by Israel to describe those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews.
A spokesman for the convent told local media that despite her age and recent hip and knee operations, Sister Cecylia had been full of vitality, youthfulness and maintained a great sense of humour.
When asked about the secret of her longevity, she replied that ‘one should pray and learn languages.’
A few years ago she said to her fellow sisters: ‘Life is beautiful but short.’
She was born as Maria on March 25, 1908 in Kielczew, in the Greater Poland Voivodeship in western Poland.
She graduated from the State Trade and Industrial School for Women in Poznan and when she was 21 she joined the Dominican cloister in Krakow, making her first religious vows and taking the name Cecylia