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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BLESSED HILDEGARD BURJAN: MOTHER AND POLITICIAN


VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in Vienna, Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of that city, presided at a Mass of thanksgiving for Sunday's beatification of Hildegard Burjan in the cathedral of St. Stephen. In his remarks following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Benedict XVI had reminded faithful how the new blessed had borne "magnificent witness to the Gospel".

  A Vatican Radio transmission dedicated to Blessed Hildegard explained that she was born into a Jewish family 1883 in the then Prussian city of Gorlitz, and studied philosophy at the University of Zurich. She married and, some time later following a period of illness, discovered the Christian faith and was baptised in 1909. She moved to Vienna where she became a member of the Austrian parliament, dedicating her political activity to serving the Gospel in support of workers and the oppressed, in keeping with the teachings of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum".

  In 1912 she founded the Association of Christian Women Home Workers, offering help to the hungry, creating a support network for families and combating child labour. In 1919 she founded the Congregation of Sisters of "Caritas Socialis". In her dedication to the family she also gave birth to a daughter, against the advice of doctors who recommended an abortion for health reasons. She thirsted after justice, seeing the Face of Jesus in the poor and suffering. "We cannot help people with money and small offerings", she would say, "rather we must give them the confidence that they are capable of doing something for themselves".

  In his homily yesterday, Cardinal Schonborn noted that Hildegard Burjan is proof that sanctity is also possible in political life. She "announced the Gospel through action", he said. "Her beatification comes at a good time to highlight that action is a core issue. ... Hildegard was a convincing Christian because, without too many words, she acted. In our own time we must again learn to understand what it means to be disciples, and to this end what we need are not theories, but examples of people who speak through their actions".
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