May Polish families be rich in love as the family of the Blessed Ulmas. May they be for the young generation a catechesis about respect for parents, in-laws, and neighbours in need of help – said Archbishop Adam Szal, Metropolitan of Przemyśl, to the participants of the 39th National Pilgrimage of Married Couples and Families. The Mass was presided over by Bishop Wiesław Śmigiel, President of the Council for the Family of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. The spouses traditionally renewed their wedding vows. The event launched a peregrination of the Blessed Ulma Family in the sign of their relics.
„You come to Mary, Mother and Queen of our Homeland, Queen of Poland. You arrive at a time which, boasting of its technical and intellectual development, is incapable of giving a definition of the family, a definition which, fortunately, a small Polish child is still capable of providing. The intellectual elite are incapable of offering this definition; they say they have not worked it out completely. Yet families and marriage are no inventions; we do not invent what is real but rather come to know and understand reality” – welcomed the participants of the 39th National Pilgrimage of Married Couples and Families Fr. Rafał Wilk, subprior of the Jasna Góra Shrine.
Archbishop Adam Szal, Metropolitan of Przemyśl, said in his homily that the family is a great challenge for us today. He pointed out that it is, as the Blessed Ulmas exemplified in their lives, a place of respect for others, respect for neighbours in need of help: „A good family is a place of real community, and the example of parents is a vital catechesis for children. This is not only an example of care for them, but also of respect for parents, in-laws, those who come to our homes, of care for neighbours in need of help. This is a great challenge for us and this challenge was answered by the Ulmas”, said Archbishop Szal.
Using the example of the Holy Family of Mary, Józef and Jesus and the blessed Polish family from Markowa, the preacher emphasised the unity of the family, which is an environment for the integral development of all of its members: „Both of these families set an example of the first and most important school of life, the foundation on which humans build their own identity and future”. Archbishop Szal compared parents to artists who, from the „material received from God, bring out the beauty of man, the beauty of a new being, preparing it for adult life”.
Outlining the daily life of the family from Markowa, the Metropolitan of Przemyśl recalled that their book collection, extensive for the standards of a rural family of that time, included a book with an annotated sentence „save the souls of your children”. This sentence is particularly relevant today, observed Archbishop Szal.
„May our families be a community of love and kindness. May they provide a good upbringing and contribute to unity in the spirit of faith”, prayed the preacher.
The Eucharist, during which the relics of the Blessed Ulma Family and a copy of the beatification image of the new Blesseds were displayed, included a renewal of marital vows, the swearing in of new family life counsellors and the entrustment of marriages and families to the Queen of Poland.
A nationwide peregrination of the relics of the martyrs from Markowa was launched. They will be first received in the Archdiocese of Częstochowa. Then, on Saturday, September 30, they will be transferred to the diocese of Sosnowiec. The relics will visit all the Polish dioceses from Saturday afternoon till the following Saturday, when they will be handed over to the next diocese. The peregrination will last until September 2024.
The reliquary, in the form of a monstrance, contains the relics of all members of the Blessed Family. The relics were placed in a circular container, about 5 cm in diameter. The casing is made of bronze in the form of a tree, against the background of which appear reliefs of the figures of Wiktoria and Józef and their Children. On the right side of the reliquary one can see the outline of the Ulma family home, and the reliquary is crowned with an image of the tower of the parish church in Markowa. The reliquary is 40 cm high.
Józef and Wiktoria Ulma lived with their six children in Markowa in the Podkarpacie region. During the occupation, they offered shelter to eight Jews on their farm. On 24 March 1944, at night, the Nazis broke into their house. First, they murdered the hiding Jews, and then the entire Ulma family, including Wiktoria, who was in advanced pregnancy, as well as their six children – Stasio, Basia, Władzio, Franio, Antoś, and Marysia. In 1995, Józef and Wiktoria Ulma were recognised with the title „Righteous Among the Nations”. The beatification of the Ulma family took place in Markowa on September 10 this year.
Mirosława Szymusik @JasnaGóraNews
Translated by M. Turski / Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference