Saints and Martyrs

Sr. M. Berchmana Leidenix

Sister M. Johanna Berchmana Leidenix, baptized as Karolina Anna, was born on November 28, 1865, in Enzersdorf, Austria as the elder of two daughters, to Michael Leidenix and Jozefa, born Benkhofer. Both sisters got their education at Mary’s Institute in Vienna, which was founded and managed by the Daughters of Divine Charity. Sister Berchmana joined them on September 11, 1881, and five years later, in 1888, so did her sister Mathilda, i.e. Sr. Bernarda. 

Sr.Berchmana took her vows on August 20, 1883. In late 1883 Sr. Berchmana was sent to Tuzla, Bosnia, and served in convents in Sarajevo, Pale, Višegrad, and Breške. Being a teacher and a nurse she mostly worked as a teacher in primary schools, and during the First World War as a nurse in a hospital in Višegrad.

From 1920 to 1923 she was sister superior of the community in a convent in Breške, and between 1931 and 1936 a teacher to novices.  Exhausted and in poor health, in 1939 Sr. Berchmana was sent to Mary's home in Pale, where she remained for the rest of her life.

Apart from her everyday duties, she tutored numerous people on the basics of literacy and was particularly pleased to teach German to gifted Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish children. 

In her obituary written by the Daughters of Divine Charity we read: »By nature, she was very strict, although she had a great desire to instill a true spirit in novices so they could be good nuns. Her strictness helped her be a very good educator for younger sisters. She wanted everybody to be as pious as she was.

Sr.M. Apolonija Pećnik said about her: “She was good, but also strict, punctual and demanded we be like that, too. She had a good teaching style and love for every one of us. Her faith was deep. She was pious and encouraged us to live by the holy rules, to prayer, silence, and perseverance in our profession. Sister Berchmana had been living far away from her homeland for fifty-eight years, in a world completely different from hers. To her, everybody was the same regardless of their nationality, religion, education, or illiteracy. 

Sr. M. Ilijana Ivić’s words testify to what a great human being she was: “She used to suffer a lot, but she endured everything in silence. At that time (of Sr. Ilijana's novitiate) Mahatma Gandhi, whom she had great respect for, was tortured, and I know she endured her hardships to ease his suffering. This thrilled me and had a great effect on me…“
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