Sweden's First New Saint in 600 Years: A Nun Who Saved Jews in WWII

Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad is credited with saving at least 12 Jews by hiding them in her convent in Rome.

Pope Francis meets Swedish Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kuhnke before the canonization of Sister Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad at the Vatican on Sunday.
Pope Francis meets Swedish Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kuhnke before the canonization of Sister Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad at the Vatican on Sunday. Reuters

A Swedish nun who saved Jewish families during World War II was canonized by Pope Francis in a ceremony at St Peter's Square on Sunday, the NNC reported.

Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism, is Sweden's first saint in more than 600 years.

Hesselblad, a former nurse, is credited with saving at least 12 Jews during the war by concealing them inside the Rome convent where she was the mother superior. The Jews remained hidden for about six months until the end of the war.

She is only the second Swede to be canonized, following the canonization of Saint Bridget 625 years ago.

She was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2004. Hesselblad died in Rome in 1957, aged 87.

The Pope also canonized Polish monk Stanislaus Papczynski, a 17th century defender of the poor who founded the first men's religious order dedicated to the Virgin Mary's immaculate conception.