Confessor of St. Faustina Kowalska Saved Jewish People in Vilnius

Fr. Michael Sopockos Personal Notes Reveal Heroic Actions During Nazi Occupation

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Divine Mercy Picture is one of the most famous pictures of Jesus in the world. This picture was revealed to Sister Faustina Kowalska, at the time when her confessor and spiritual director was Fr. Michael Sopoćko.

Few people know that blessed Fr. Sopoćko, a great spiritual leader was also involved in saving Jewish people. He helped saved about 100 Jewish lives from the ghetto in Vilnius issuing forged Catholic birth certificates, which were necessary to make an official ID and escape from ghetto.  

Msgr. Tadeusz Krahel managed to reach Sopoćko’s personal notes, in which he writes: “Before and at the beginning of the war a lot of candidates with higher education (doctors, engineers, teachers and students) have come to me for this purpose [to be baptized]. (…) I gave Catholic certificates both to those baptized and unbaptized, and directed some of them to my friends in the country, where they survived the war. Today I do not remember all the names because the list was lost during my stay at my «Providence.» I recall only a few people: Dr. Aleksander Steiberg (Sawicki – according to the document) with his wife, who remained in Vilnius as the head of the hospital in Wilcza Łapa, Dr. Erdman (Benedict Szymanski – according to the document) with his wife and daughter, lately the head of St. Elizabeth hospital in Wrocław (…), Dr. Juliusz Genzel and his wife, who now lives in Sydney (Australia).»

Fr. Sopoćko was helping Jews until March 3, 1942 when, avoiding jail, found refuge in Czarny Bór at the Ursuline Convent, where he stayed until the end of the Nazi occupation. He had previously sent Jews to these Ursuline nuns and they directed them further. He also directed Jews from the Vilnius ghetto to Fr. Dean Jan Władysław Sielewicz in Worniany. There, Sielewicz together with his Vicar, Fr. Hipolit Chruściel, placed them at their trusted parishioners’ homes.

Research conducted in archives various archives shows that assisting Jews by the Catholic clergy in Poland was a widespread phenomenon.

— — —

On the Web:

To view a collection of Jewish memories on priests, monks and nuns’ assistance, published by Mark Paul, go to:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation