Blessed Karolina Kozka was born on August 2, 1898. She came from a large family; in fact, Karolina was one of 11 children. Her parents were poor, but rich in piety and religion. The family lived in the rural area of Wal-Ruda, Poland. Karolina was a happy but pious child, and attended the local school.
Every day, she and her family prayed, and loved to recite the rosary. Unusually for that time, the children were encouraged to read the Bible and holy works. Karolina loved to pray, and would often fall asleep muttering her rosary and with her beads in her hands. Often during the day, even as she played the young girl could be heard to be muttering her prayers. Karolina was constantly reciting the ‘Hail Mary’. She once recounted how her greatest happiness was saying her prayers.
Karolina served in her church from a young age, and also helped the local children with their catechisms. It was not known if Karolina had a vocation, but she was clearly going to lead a spiritually rich life either as a nun or a lay person.
In 1914, WWI broke out. Karolina and her family lived in a part of Poland that was ruled by Germany. The Russian army invaded the area, and committed many atrocities as they advanced. They killed many innocent civilians and raped many women and girls. The Russian army captured Karolina's home region, changing things for the worse and frightening everyone.
One winter night, an armed Russian soldier came to their house, demanding that Karolina and her father go with him and saying that he was taking them to his commanding officer. As they approached a forest, the soldier ordered Karolina’s father to return home for no reason. The poor man was made to go home at gunpoint. The Russian soldier then tried to rape the young innocent girl. This was seen by two young boys who had been hiding from the Russians in the woods.
The soldier attempted to force himself on Karolina. She struggled, and refused to surrender her virginity. The soldier became angry, and took out a knife and stabbed the young girl. Karolina ran towards the swamps, which saved her from being raped by the evil soldier. He stopped following her when she fell to the ground. Karolina was dead – at the age of 16.
Her body was not found until almost three weeks later. People immediately began to regard her as someone holy, who had lived a sinless life.
Soon, people were praying to her to give them strength during the terrible war times.
In 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Karolina, making her Blessed Karolina.
Today, she is known as the “Maria Goretti of Poland”.