|Born||May 26, 1900|
Röllecken, Attendorn, German Empire
|Died||December 23, 1944 44) (aged|
Auschwitz-Birkenau, German-occupied Poland
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
Angela Maria of the Heart of Jesus, also called Angela Maria Autsch, baptized as Maria Cecilia Autsch (26 March 1900 – 23 December 1944),was a German Trinitarian Sister of Valencia, and Roman Catholic Venerable.
Maria Cecilia Autsch was born in Röllecken, part of Attendorn in the Olpe district of (Westphalia), German Empire on March 26, 1900. She was a member of a modest working-class family (her father was a quarry worker) that regularly practised the Catholic faith. She went to school in the village of Bamenohl. The terrible economic situation in the Weimar Republic meant that she had to go out to work in the clothing store Bischoff & Broegger in Finnentrop, where she was popular amongst both fellow workers and customers
Maria was thirty-three years old when she joined the Trinitarian Sisters of Valencia in Mötz, Austria. She began the novitiate and was given the name Angela Maria of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The novitiate ended with the first profession of vows on August 16, 1934. Her final profession took place on September 28, 1938, the year Hitler annexed Austria.
On the morning of August 10, 1940, Sr Angela went to buy some milk. She happened to meet some women she knew at the dairy and, conversing with them, she related that the Allies had sunk a German ship off Norway and many had died in that disaster. She ended saying Hitler is a calamity for Europe.One of the women, a known Nazi sympathizer, related to her son, also a Nazi sympathizer, what she had heard from Sr. Angela. He reported the fact to the chief of the Gestapo.
The Gestapo opened a file on Sr. Angela and arrested her on August 12, 1940. She was jailed for seventeen days in Innsbruck before becoming prisoner no. 4651 in the concentration camp of Ravensbrück on August 31, 1940. There she was a light of hope and courage to her fellow inmates. She was frequently beaten by her captors but her contagious good humor was "a ray of sunshine in deepest Hell". Some prisoners who might have killed themselves were inspired by her, they said afterwards, even those who had no idea that she was a nun.
The Nazis sent Sr. Angela to Auschwitz where she befriended a Jewish woman doctor from Slovakia, Margarita Schwalbova. Feeling depressed and less than human, she was deeply moved when the nun went up to her and gently stroked her hair. Although Schwalbova was an atheist, she and Sister Angela became friends, with the latter acting in a way that earned her the title Angel of Auschwitz.When Schwalbova was sick, she told her stories about the lives and miracles of the saints, shared her meager rations with her and others even though this was strictly forbidden. In March 1943, Sister Angela was transferred to Birkenau another camp where she worked in the kitchen and infirmary, caring equally for inmates and persecutors. She died on December 23, 1944, during an Allied air raid whilst taking care of patients and her body was cremated just a month before the Allies liberated the camp.
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