Life: March 29, 1874 - September 23, 1944
Why you should know her: Mother Marie Dora was a Belgian nun who, during World War II, used her convent to hide Jewish children and allied airmen from the Nazis.
Born as Anna Otto in Brussels, Belgium, Mother Marie Dora took her vows in 1900. It was written of her, “what struck one above all in her physionomy was her kindness; every pain brought her suffering, and she knew how to be maternal with each person..."
Mother Marie Dora's kindness - and the pain she would feel at the suffering of others - would truly come to light in the decades to follow.
In 1939, the war reached Belgium. Mother Marie Dora opened her convent to refugees and those seeking shelter from the constant bombing. In late 1940, the Nazis took over the building. It took nearly 6 months for Mother Marie Dora to be allowed to return - a length of time that worsened the aging woman's already frail health.
Ill health, however, would not deter the elderly nun from helping others who were suffering. In the summer of 1942, as the Nazis rounded up Belgium's Jews, Mother Marie Dora hid Jewish children in the convent's school, giving them false names. The convent was also used to shelter allied airmen who'd been shot down, members of the country's resistance against the Nazis, and Jews who were fleeing from certain deportation and death.
Sadly, Mother Marie Dora did not survive to see the war's end and the fall of the Nazi regime. Undergoing an operation in 1944, she died just a few days after the liberation of Antwerp. Her kindness, however, was honored by Yad Vashem, as she was named Righteous Among the Nations in 1998, for the stand she took against evil, and for the kindness she showed towards those in need.