Blessed Elisabetta Hesselblad Hailed for Wartime Aid to Jews

Religious Founder Proclaimed «Righteous Among The Nations»

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ROME, MAY 5, 2005 ( Blessed Elisabetta Hesselblad, founder of the Order of Our Most Holy Savior of St. Bridget, was proclaimed «Righteous Among the Nations» for helping Jews in Rome during World War II.

The medal awarded to the Swede will be given on June 3 to her successor as general abbess of the Order, Mother Maria Tekla Famiglietti, by Shai Cohen, adviser of the Israeli Embassy.

The Yad Vashem remembrance authority in Israel, grants the title of Righteous Among the Nations to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The award ceremony in the Chancery Palace will be attended by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State; Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome; Swedish ambassadors; and relatives of the blessed.

Mother Hesselblad, a Lutheran convert to Catholicism, founded the religious order in 1911. Today the order has spread to 16 countries. Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000.

The religious lived in Rome during the German occupation of Italy. Her residence as general abbess of the order was St. Bridget’s Convent in Piazza Farnese.

After moving because of the Nazi occupation, the Roman Jewish families Piperno and Sed decided to return to the Eternal City on Sept. 8, 1943, and sought refuge in St. Bridget’s Convent.

Mother Hesselblad hid them and also took care that they not be compelled to attend Christian prayers.

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