Maria Cecilia Autsch was born to a modest working-class family in Germany. She helped support her family by working in a clothing shop. When she was thirty-three she joined the Trinitarian Sisters in Mötz, Austria, where she was given the religious name Angela Maria of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She took her final vows in 1938, the same year as the German annexation of Austria.
On August 10, 1940, while performing an errand in town, she ran into some women she knew, and in conversation she happened to say that Hitler was “a calamity for Europe.” One of the women reported her to the Gestapo, and soon after she was arrested and charged with “insulting the leader” and “sedition of the population.” After several weeks in jail she was transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp, and ultimately to Auschwitz.
In the camp she was beaten and subjected to all types of hardship. Yet she never lost her good cheer. Sharing her meager rations, she comforted and encouraged other inmates, who called her “the Angel of Auschwitz,” while never suspecting that she was a nun. One of them described her as “a ray of sunshine in deepest Hell.”
On December 23, 1944, she was killed during an Allied air raid. Her cause for canonization was introduced, and she was declared venerable in 2018.
“Don’t let yourself be overcome. Think about a better day and hold on to what is better!”
—Venerable Angela Maria Autsch