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The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family

This biography tells the story of the heroic virtue and sacrifice that led to the beatification of an entire family.

No Greater Love – The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family

by Jean Olwen Maynard

Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children have been beatified together in a ceremony in Poland!

An entire Polish family has been beatified at once, including a child barely born. The story that led to the beatification of this devout couple and their seven children is a tragic but remarkable one.

Under the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, Jews were indiscriminately arrested, imprisoned, and killed. Christians who helped them hide or escape placed themselves in the same peril.

In the village of Markowa, Poland, Josef Ulma, a deeply devout peasant farmer with a talent for photography, and his pregnant wife Wiktoria, were moved by the plight of their Jewish neighbours. Guided by the parable of the Good Samaritan, which was underlined in red ink in the family Bible, they agreed to shelter several Jewish families. As a result, in 1944, the Nazis came for Josef, Wiktoria, and their seven small children – one not yet born at the time of the attack. Not a soul was spared.

The whole family was beatified in their home village of Markowa in September 2023. Their incredible story of heroic virtue is told in No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family.

Format: A6 Paperback

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A Prayer for the Intercession of the Ulma Family

Almighty and eternal God,
we thank You for the testimony of the heroic love
of the spouses Józef and Wiktoria with their children,
who gave their lives to save persecuted Jews.

May their prayers and example
support families in Christian life
and help everyone to follow the true path of holiness.

Lord, if it is in accordance with Your will,
kindly grant me the grace … for which I am asking You
through their intercession
and count them among the Blessed.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory Be…

Order Now: No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family

Order Now: No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family

Images: From the archive of Mateusz Szpytma

A Family of No Importance: From the book No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family.

This is the story of a family – a mother and father, and their seven children all very small and one not yet born – who were of no importance in the eyes of the world. They lived their lives in an underdeveloped backwater of Central Europe, in a period of history when ideologies of hatred gained such widespread acceptance as to be considered normal and legitimate. Under the power of those ideologies countless numbers of people made choices which led them into horrifying depths of evil and brought suffering and death to millions of others.

It’s very difficult for us to enter imaginatively into the atmosphere of those times. Although they weren’t so long ago, in many ways they already seem totally alien. It’s all too easy for us to perch smugly on the moral high ground, saying to ourselves, “We’d never do that .” But perhaps we would. Or perhaps at least we’d go along with it. There, but for the grace of God…

Even if we can’t fully grasp the why and the how of it all, we do need to know about what happened. A firm consensus against permitting those terrible crimes to be forgotten and swept under the carpet provides a safeguard against letting them happen again. It is also a way of showing respect, something we owe to the dead. The Ulmas loved each other and lived happily together – something not all families are able to achieve. Other than that, their material circumstances didn’t allow much scope for noteworthy achievement. In an act of rare heroism, they put themselves at risk to save two other families, but their efforts ended in total failure with everyone killed.

Their story is nevertheless a bright light shining in the darkness. Through it God is saying to us something the world cannot hear. That each and every human person is infinitely precious in his sight. And that he designed us to be born and grow up in families, profoundly bound up with one another so that even in our fallen condition we might come to understand something of how truly precious each person is. The Ulmas didn’t have advanced degrees in theology, but they absolutely knew all this in their hearts. This is why the Church recognises them as having given their lives for the sake of the Gospel: as martyrs, slain by the forces of evil out of hatred for the Faith.

Order Now: No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family

Read More About the Ulma Family

In celebration of the beatification of the Blessed Ulma family, CTS was recently delighted to host an event with the Polish Cultural Institute and the London Oratory, officially launching the new CTS book No Greater Love: The Martyrdom of the Ulma Family. We were honoured by the attendance of Polish Secretary of State Arkadiusz Mularczyk and the Polish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, and privileged to be able to share with all those who attended the moving story of the Blessed Ulma family.

The fascinating speeches made at this event by our CEO Pierpaolo Finaldi and by our Commissioning Editor Victoria Seed, can now be read on our blog:

The Tragic Story of the Ulma Family

On 24th March 1944, in a once-peacful Polish village, a massacre took place. The Nazis came in the middle of the night to the home of the Ulma family, where among the sleeping inhabitants were Jews whom the Ulmas were hiding. All were killed, adults and children, Catholics and Jews. The whole of the Ulma family having now been beatified, be inspired by their story in this blog.

Click here to read the blog

The Ordinary Holiness of a Family Who Became Heroes

The Blessed Ulma family died as heroes, having lost their lives due to hiding Jews from the Nazis, guided by their Christian faith in doing so. But prior to this tragic event, they lived unremarkable lives in a quiet Polish village. In this blog, discover how it was the ordinary holiness of the Ulmas that ultimately led to their heroic deeds and eventual martyrdom.

Click here to read the blog