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Markowa, Poland: Blesseds Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and children

The story of Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma:

The small village of Lwów Voivodeship (now called Markowa) was home to about 4,000 people in 1939, shortly before the German army conquered Poland.  Predominantly Catholic, the village also contained a number of Jews as well.

The Ulma Family in Markowa, Poland
An amateur photographer, it was Jozef who took the photo this photo.

By 1942, many Jews had been rounded up and sent to concentration camps, but eight were able to hide in the attic of the home of Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma.  This was in addition to their own six children aged from two to eight (with one more on the way), which made it difficult to provide for everyone.  They were hidden in the attic of their home…a small, dark space, but safe from the Nazis.  Naturally this was a great risk, not only to the Jews in hiding, but to the Ulma family as well.

It is a sobering thought to wonder “would I be willing to take this risk?”  We all would like to say yes….but would we?  Hopefully none of us will ever have to make such a choice.

Not everyone in the village was willing to hid Jews….some had gone so far as to place notes telling them to throw them out.  Finally one of the local ” blue police” (loyal to the Nazis) denounced the family for sheltering Jews and on March 24, 1944, five German gendarmes and several of the local blue police raided the Ulman home.

All were taken in to custody…the Jews and all members of the Ulma family. They first shot the Jews, and next Józef and Wiktoria (who was in the seventh month of pregnancy). Then, the commander decided to kill the children (perhaps as an example to the other villagers). Within a few minutes, seventeen people lost their lives (including the baby whom Wiktoria started giving birth to at the moment of the execution).

About twenty other Jews were sheltered by other Poles in Markowa and they did survive the occupation.

In 1995, Wiktoria and Józef Ulma were posthumously awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations” title. In 2010, they were honoured with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński.

In 2003, the Ulmas were named “Servant of God” in the Diocese of Przemyśl. Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of the couple and their children in a decree signed in December 2022. The World Holocaust Remembrance Center has honored the Ulmas as Righteous Among the Nations for the sacrifice of their lives.

On September 10, 2023 Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their children were declared “Blessed“.  Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, presided over the beatification ceremony in Markowa.

Note:  This was the first time an entire family has been elevated toward sainthood, according to the Vatican’s media office.   The Vatican clarified that, in fact, the child was born “at the moment” of his mother’s murder, and, as such, is included in the number of living children.  Here is a video produced by EWTN that tells their story and the Beatification.

While the feast day of Catholic martyrs usually is the day of their death, the feast day chosen for the Ulma family is July 7, Józef and Wiktoria’s wedding anniversary. This was chosen since the date of their death, March 24, falls during Lent.

Initially this feast will only be celebrated in Poland. Local bishops would have to approve this feast to be included on their calendar, or the current pope could extend it to the universal Church after their future canonization.

Your can read more of their story here.

The Parish Church of Saint Dorothy in Markowa:

Tomb of the Ulma family in Markowa, Poland
Tomb of the Ulma family on a side altar of the Church of Saint Dorothy

Here, in this beautiful church is a side altar with the remains of the Ulma family. It has become a major place of pilgrimage.

Address:  Markowa 1429, 37-120 Markowa

Tel: +48 17-226-53-82

email:  parafia.markowa@gmail.com

Click here for the official website of the Church of Saint Dorothy in Markowa, Poland (in Polish).


Memorial to the ulma family

The Museum in Markowa:

There is now a museum here with exhibits about the Nazi occupation and the courageous efforts of the Ulma family.  You can also find a memorial with their names, and others, inscribed on it.

You can find the museum here:

Address:  37-120 Markowa 1487

Tel:  +48 17 224 10 15

email:  sekretariat@muzeumulmow.pl

Click here for the official Markowa museum website.

Traveling to Markowa:

Markowa is located just 6 miles South east of Lancut, about 120 miles (200 km) from Krakow.  There is frequent train service from Krakow Plaszow Station (there two train stations in Krakow) that take about 2 hours for the direct trains.  There are one or two others but they require a change of trains

Find restaurants and hotels in Lancut, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor    There are also a few hotels in Markowa not shown on the TripAdvisor site.

⇐ Back to Catholic Shrines and places of interest in Poland

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