Seventy years ago a Russian nun was killed in the gas chambers of the Ravensbruck concentration camp on March 31, 1945, Holy Saturday.
Mother Maria Skobtsova had fled Russia and lived in Paris, where she became a nun. But she did not live a cloistered life, but a life that embraced the world, especially the poor, for “each person is the very icon of God incarnate in the world.”
As a nun she fed and housed the destitute, especially caring for the many Russian émigrés. But many intellectual émigrés met in her home to consider the renewal of Orthodoxy.
A new phase of her life began with the German occupation of Paris. She began rescuing Jewish children from the Nazis, even hiding them in trash cans.
For her there was no barrier between worshipping God and serving God’s people. For her, the service of the poor was another way of recognizing the presence of God in our world.
“The meaning of the liturgy must be translated into life. It is why Christ came into the world and why He gave us our liturgy.”
May the example of Mother Maria Skobtsova move us to worship God and serve the poor.
A tribute to Mother Maria by Jim Forest can be found here.