Life Sketch of Blessed Sister Zdenka

Sr Zdenka


Blessed Sister Zdenka (Cecilia) Schelingová of the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross, was born on December 24, 1916, in Krivá, Orava, Slovakia. From 1922-30 she did her basic schooling there.

On July 6, 1931, she joined as a candidate, and on January 28 she entered the novitiate in Podunajké Biskupice.  On this occasion Cecilia was given her religious name, Sister Zdenka.  On January 30, 1937, she took her first vows, and on January 28, 1943, she made her final profession.

The young sister worked first as a nurse in Humenné, then as a lab technician in the government hospital at Bratislava, and later as an assistant in the X-Ray department until her arrest on February 29, 1952.

In 1948 the Communists assumed political power in Czechoslovakia.  With this, the Church found itself in an increasingly difficult situation.  Sister Zdenka felt herself obligated to stand up for the cause of the Church.  Twice she assisted in an undercover operation to liberate imprisoned Catholic priests whose lives were in danger.  The first attempt was successful, while the second was set up by the secret police as a trap; those involved fell into it unsuspectingly.

Sr. Zdenka was arrested and jailed in the Palace of Justice at Bratislava, where she was interrogated and tortured. On June 17, 1952, she was sentenced for alleged high treason: 12 years imprisonment and 10 years loss of all her rights as a citizen.

During her detention pending trial in Bratislava, and later in the prisons of Rimavská, Sobota, Pardubice, Brno, and Praha, she suffered severely and patiently.  On April 16, 1955, she was released from prison, sick and broken.  On July 31, 1955, she died in the hospital at Trnava in consequence of the maltreatment she suffered during her incarceration.  She was 39.

On October 16, 1979, her remains, together with those of ten other sisters, were exhumed and transferred to a community grave of the Holy Cross Sisters at Podunajké Biskupice.

On September 14, 2003, Pope John Paul II declared her Blessed during a solemn beatification rite in Bratislava.

[Her out stretched hand symbolises her openness, disposition to service and a sacrifice in the attitude to God and people.]