Sister Myrian Selz, who is of Jewish origin but was baptized at the age of ten in 1941 before becoming a religious sister at the age of nineteen, has worked in Denmark, India and Israel assisting Christians to discover their Jewish roots.
Sister Myriam Selz is a Religious Sister of the Assumption.
She has a direct look and a confident voice. Although now slightly stooped, she still has an alert silhouette. Aged 86, Sister Myriam Selz-Solinski is striking with her youthful spirit.
It is a pleasure to hear her explain her Jewish-Catholic story as she has also told it in her autobiography.
“It was my mother who wanted me and my two young brothers to be baptized in 1941, hoping that this would give us the opportunity to escape the Nazis,” she says.
Myriam, then aged ten, was indeed saved.
“In my child’s mind, there was an association between the fact of being saved from death and Jesus’ death and resurrection,” she says, recalling her first communion in Cannes in 1942.
For a little Jewish girl, however, that was also a period of fleeing and hiding. She thus found herself successively enrolled as a student under a false name in a series of Catholic schools in Cannes, Monte Carlo and Chavagnes-en-Paillers in the Vendée region.
“I never felt I was lying because I knew that my life was in danger and life is a primordial value in Judaism,” she says.
Later she would learn that her maternal grandfather, a Paris jeweler, had died at Auschwitz.
Returning to Paris in December 1944, Myriam enrolled at the Lubëck School, the first school founded by the Sisters of the Assumption in Paris in 1882 in the street of the same name.
After the plight of the previous years, she had difficulty in adjusting to her new studies.
Nevertheless, she was passionate about religious studies and continued to go to mass to the consternation of her mother, who felt that it was no longer necessary for her to remain a Catholic.
“In her mind, Jews were on one side and Christians on the other, and we were Jews,” Sister Myriam says with a smile.
Then during Midnight Mass at Christmas 1947, while staying with friends in Mons, Belgium, she understood that God was calling her.
“I understood that he had saved me and that I was free to say no but that, because of love, I should say yes,” she explains. “I decided that day that I would become a religious. It was the freest act…