“Hostia sanctae castitatis”: a sacrifice of holy chastity. These words were written in the parish register of Vysoka nad Uhom, Slovakia, by the local priest, after the violent death of young Anna Kolesarova, killed by a drunken Soviet soldier during the Second World War for defending her chastity from a ferocious attempt of sexual violence. Today, 74 years after this tragic event, Anna will be beatified. The solemn event will take place on September 1st in Košice before a large gathering of young men and women who draw inspiration from her exemplary bodily chastity and faith. SIR interviewed Father Pavol Hudak, dean of the Home of Anna Kolesarova, involved in the beatification process.
Her short yet beautiful life speaks to me especially through her faith. Faith in herself, that of a young woman who protected her chastity and her innocence. At the same time she was faithful to her future husband, for as a woman, she naturally wanted to marry. Her faithfulness is seen also in her journey towards God during her lifetime, having faced the death of her mother at a young age, and she remained faithful in her earthly journey until she was born to Paradise.
What has been your role in Anna’s beatification process and how what was your reaction when the Holy Father finally announced her upcoming beatification?
It is a result of the initiative of the young people with whom I used to visit Anna’s place of birth, Vysoka nad Uhom, to learn her story. They were the ones who asked to open a beatification process; they had been deeply touched by the story of her life. As regards my own sentiments, I am extremely pleased for the great success of the initiative. To be honest, I must say that I expected it, but when we were informed of the decision to beatify Anna I wasn’t prepared and I am glad that when I heard the news I was seated! It was a great joy for me.
Preparations for September 1st are under way, we are working on the practical aspects. The registration process of priests, volunteers and participants in the event has already begun. We are visiting parishes across Slovakia to tell the story of the first lay Slovenian woman who will be beatified. We are grateful to the media for their positive cooperation, they are helping us spread her message throughout the entire Country.
What inspires the flows of hundreds, thousands of youths who are visiting Anna Kolesarova’s home, paying homage to her tomb – that has become a pilgrimage destination? What is
her message to the young men and women of today?
Her message is the harmony of inner and outer beauty of every human being. Inner beauty is underestimated by contemporary society, the emphasis is primarily on exterior aspects. Anna’s testimony tells us that what counts is the chastity of our heart, and that once it is achieved it reflects on our outer beauty. Roses are beautiful because they are roses, however they also possess a kind of beauty that is invisible to the eye, their perfume. To unveil the full beauty of a rose you need to draw near it and scent its perfume. Also people have the special perfume of beauty, it’s the perfume of a pure heart, of sincerity and goodness. Our inner beauty is the essence of our harmony.
The virtue of chastity in the life of young people: what role does it have? How do you view it as a priest and as their friend?
As a priest, to me chastity is a way of life, something that incorporates the full identity of a person. Thanks to this virtue people can create solid bonds and marriages, for they don’t limit their attention to the physical aspects of the other person. They want to get to know each other for who they truly are. When these youths get married I experience a great joy, for their innocence is radiant … This year I celebrated the marriage of 15 couples who had met in Vysoka nad Uhom during the pilgrimage of Anna Kolesarova. Each one of these couples show that it’s possible, and that’s it’s worthwhile, to remain chaste until marriage.” Chastity paves the way to self-acceptance and self-respect. As a friend of young people I bore witness to and I can confirm the fact all that what we are saying and declaring here has a meaning; it’s a good seed sown in human hearts. I consider this extremely encouraging.