Our priest gave a sermon yesterday on Mother Maria Skobtsova, cigarette-smoking nun, poet, former Bolshevik and martyr of the Nazi yoke.
When she became a nun, her bishop gave her a unique charge: that the world would be her monastery. She opened her home to every sort of poverty–hunger, alcoholism, mental illness, disease. When the Nazis took over Paris, Mother Maria and her partner in ministry, Fr. Dimitri Klepinin, worked to save as many Jews as they could. Fr. Keplinin would issue baptismal certificates; Mother Maria would hide the Jews until they could escape.
When the Nazis came to her home to demand where the Jews were, Mother Maria took them to her chapel and showed them the icons of Christ and the Theotokos.
Mother Maria said that Naziism “represented a ‘new paganism’ bringing in its wake disasters, upheavals, persecutions and wars. It was evil unveiled, the ‘contaminator of all springs and wells.’ The so-called ‘master race’ was ‘led by a madman who needs a straightjacket and should be placed in a cork-lined room so that his bestial wailing will not disturb the world at large,'” Jim Forest writes in a brief biography.
It’s an inspiring story, and she’s a wonderful character. Somebody should write a screenplay about her.
Here’s a link to Mother Maria Skobtsova: Essential Writings.