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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Sarah’s Key

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Kristen Scott Thomas plays Julia, an American journalist in Paris who is married to a Frenchman, Bertrand Tezac. In 2002, as the 60th anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of Jews in Paris by the French police, Julia wants to write the story as it has not been told before. Few people realize that thousands of Jews were sent to the death camps not by the Nazis, but by the French police. As Julia begins her research, she and her husband and daughter prepare to move into a Paris flat that has been in the Tezac family for decades. Julia also discovers that in middle age, she is pregnant.
 
In July, 1942, the police arrive at the apartment building that houses several Jewish families.  They tell the families to pack enough for three days and to come with them. Twelve- year-old Sarah Starzynski pushes her little brother into a closet and tells him not to move, that she will come back to get him. She locks him in and takes the key. She and her parents are taken to a popular winter sports arena that is closed over. For five days more than 13,000 people are locked in without water, food or toilets. Sarah and another girl, Rachel, escape with the help of a kindly guard  everyone else is transported to Nazi extermination camps in the east, especially Auschwitz.
 
Sarah is taken in by a kindly farmer and his family that takes her to Paris to find her brother.  New people have already moved into the apartment.
 
It is difficult to tell more of the story without giving key aspects away, so I will just say that this is a film about life, the extermination of life, abortion for convenience—that can easily be compared to the extermination of Jews and others by the Nazis for convenience. Whether or not the author of the book (French title is “Elle s'appelait Sarah”), Tatiana de Rosnay, intended this parallel, I don’t know, but it seemed clear to me. Survivor’s guilt is also an important topic that taken together with all of the life themes in the film, offer much to talk about.
 
More than anything I think the story wants to say: how easily we forget the crimes against humanity of the past. We need to remember or we are doomed to repeat them. There are consequences to ignoring or forgetting history, just as there are consequences to not seeing genocide and man-made famine in our world today. History in the making. How do we want to be remembered?
 
“Sarah’s Key” is a very moving film that reaches in and takes you by way of the heart.


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Madeleine Sophie Barat: The legacy of Madeleine Sophie Barat can be found in the more than 100 schools operated by her Society of the Sacred Heart, institutions known for the quality of the education made available to the young. 
<p>Sophie herself received an extensive education, thanks to her brother, Louis, 11 years older and her godfather at Baptism. Himself a seminarian, he decided that his younger sister would likewise learn Latin, Greek, history, physics and mathematics—always without interruption and with a minimum of companionship. By age 15, she had received a thorough exposure to the Bible, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and theology. Despite the oppressive regime Louis imposed, young Sophie thrived and developed a genuine love of learning. </p><p>Meanwhile, this was the time of the French Revolution and of the suppression of Christian schools. The education of the young, particularly young girls, was in a troubled state. At the same time, Sophie, who had concluded that she was called to the religious life, was persuaded to begin her life as a nun and as a teacher. She founded the Society of the Sacred Heart, which would focus on schools for the poor as well as boarding schools for young women of means; today, co-ed Sacred Heart schools can be found as well as schools exclusively for boys. </p><p>In 1826, her Society of the Sacred Heart received formal papal approval. By then she had served as superior at a number of convents. In 1865, she was stricken with paralysis; she died that year on the feast of the Ascension. </p><p>Madeleine Sophie Barat was canonized in 1925.</p> American Catholic Blog When you go to Jesus, you’re not going to a God who only knows heaven; instead, you’re placing your hurting heart into pierced hands that understand both the pain of suffering and the glory of redemption.

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