Recognizing the World’s Oldest Nun

“Life is wonderful… however, too short.”

A number of media sites from The Vatican News to the European Jewish Congress added the details to an intriguing story in the UK’s Independent recently, which reported on the passing of the woman believed to have been world’s “oldest nun.”

Sister Cecylia Roszak passed away in the Polish convent in Krakow where she had lived for the last 90 years. She was 110.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Institute had awarded Sister Cecylia and her convent sisters the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal given to non-Jews who risked their lives to help Jewish people during the war.

Born in 1908, Sister Cecylia joined the Dominican monastery when she was 21. In1938, she went to Vilnius (today in Lithuania) to open a new convent. But plans were scrapped when war broke out.

The sister sheltered about a dozen people who had escaped from the ghetto there from the Nazis, one of whom was activist and writer Abba Kovner, who later testified at the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

The Vatican News reported that at her funeral in Krakow before she was laid to rest in the city’s historic cemetery, was a massive bouquet of flowers sent in remembrance by Wanda Jerzyniec. Sister Cecylia had sheltered Wanda, along with her brother, after the Germans shot both their parents in Vilnius in 1944. (The authorities had arrested her superior and officially closed down the convent in 1943.)

After the war, Sister Cecylia returned to Krakow—where she worked as an organist and cantor for more than 80 years.

The Mother Superior at her convent says that a favorite expression of Cecylia’s was, “Life is wonderful, however, too short.”