This is a WWII story from my hometown of Geleen in the Netherlands about a lady called Luise Löwenfels although she was known as Maria Aloysia Löwenfels AKA Sister Aloysia.
Luise Löwenfels (Trabelsdorf,Germany 5 juli 1915 – Auschwitz-Birkenau, ca. 9 augustus 1942). She was born in a small village called Trabelsdorf in Germany in a Jewish family.
Even though she was Jewish she attended a Roman Catholic school. When she was 10 her father passed away, in that time she did get consolation from her Catholic friends at school.
She was drawn to the Roman Catholic faith and often visited Catholic churches and would attend mass on a regular base, this to the dismay of her family.She would often be punished by her Mother and Brothers for this. Later when she still didn’t conduct herself in the manner her family expected her to she was disowned by them.
She sought refuge in nearby convents. In the 1930’s due to the Nazi imposed laws on the Jews she regularly had to change her place of residence.
Eventually she found refuge in a convent in Mönchengladbach
On 25 November 1935 she was baptized and received the name Maria Aloysia.
Due to increasing threat of the Nazi regime many Jews decided to leave Germany. Maria Aloysia’s plan was to move to England but she ended up in the Netherlands in the small mining town Geleen near the Dutch-German border in the convent of ‘Arme Dienstmaagden van Jezus Christus’ – which translates to Poor Maidens of Jesus Christ. Who she joined on the 8th of December 1937, on the 12th of September 1940 she gave her first vows as a Nun.
Because of her Jewish origin her religious live was made increasingly difficult, she was no longer allowed to teach at the local junior infant school and she was forced to wear the yellow star of David.
Although the German occupiers had promised not to pursue the Jews who had converted to Christianity , they deviated from this decision after the Dutch Bishops had openly protested against the German actions.
Together with dozens of other Catholic converted Jews including Edith Hedwig Stein [St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, OCD] and her sister Rosa Adelheid Stein, who both lived in the nearby convent of Echt, Sister Aloysia was arrested and were brought to Kamp Amersfoort.
Then they were transported to Westerbork .
On the 7th of August 1942 they were all transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they most certainly were led straight to gas chambers when they arrived on the 9th of August.
Sister Aloysia died the tender age of 27. Her only ‘crime’ was being born in a Jewish family.
Although the story of Edith Stein had been well known and documented, the story of Sr. Aloysia had been largely ignored.
The convent had been destroyed in October 1942 by a bombing campaign by the allies who had mistaken Geleen voor nearby Aachen in Germany.
The convent was rebuild in 1950 but closed again in the 80’s, however the Sisters still have a community in Geleen and involve themselves mainly with looking after refugees.
On the 28th of June 2006 a monument in remembrance of Sr. Maria Aloysia Löwenfels. It was placed approximately where they old Convent once stood.
In 2015 the Apostolic administrator of the German diocese Limburg has started the canonization procedure (The official process for declaring someone a saint)for Sr Aloysia. To have her declared a Martyr.
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