Home»Local News»Ohio’s Dorothy Stang to be the first American woman included in Vatican memorial for modern martyrs.

Ohio’s Dorothy Stang to be the first American woman included in Vatican memorial for modern martyrs.

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A month before the 20th anniversary of her martyrdom, Sister Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, will be honored by the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy.

At a public ceremony on January 10, 2025, Stang’s story will join those of martyred Christians from across the world at the Church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola. In 2005, Stang was assassinated in Brazil for her work to enact land reform policies that protected the rights of those made poor. One of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, she is formally recognized by the Vatican as a modern-day martyr.

A small container of blood-soaked soil from the site of Stang’s murder will become part of the permanent memorial. This relic has been preserved by the Ohio Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the past 19 years. It will be displayed in the Sanctuary of the New Martyrs among relics such as the chasuble of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the tunic of Archbishop Faraj Rahho, the trowel of St. Charles de Foucauld and a letter from Blessed Franz Jägerstätter written just before his execution for refusing to fight with the Nazis.

A native of Dayton, OH, Stang will be the first woman from the U.S. honored in San Bartolomeo. The church is the burial site of St. Bartholomew the Apostle and a dedicated memorial for those whom Pope John Paul II called “new witnesses of the faith,” or modern-day martyrs.

“Dorothy gave her one and only life to lift up those made poor and to protect the Amazon from destruction,” says Sister Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, Ohio provincial moderator. “She stands as a model of compassion, conviction and courage for all Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and for all persons who care about God’s people and God’s earth.”

Stang’s ministry in Brazil began in 1966. As the years went on, she increasingly received death threats from loggers and landowners. After she was shot at point blank range, four people were indicted in connection with her death.

Posthumously, Stang has been honored by the United States Congress and widely recognized across the world; in 2008 she was given the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights. Numerous books, movies, documentaries and an opera have been developed about her life, ministry, martyrdom and legacy.

Dorothy Mae Stang was born during the Great Depression, one of nine children in a Catholic family. She was educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Julienne High School in Dayton. At age 17, she entered the order. For about 15 years she taught Catholic elementary school students in Illinois and Arizona before volunteering for missionary work in Brazil. She spent almost 40 years living in poverty alongside the people she served and at the time of her martyrdom at age 73, Stang was a dual citizen of Brazil (naturalized) and the United States.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur participate in a worldwide mission to spread the goodness of God beyond the boundaries of nation, state and tribe. An international organization established in 1804, the Sisters focus on education, especially underserved women and children, and ministering where others may not choose to go. SNDdeN has been a part of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 1840.

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