Catholic Church to beatify Polish family, including new-born baby, killed by Nazis

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Catholic Church is to beatify a Polish family of nine including a new-born baby who died at the hands of the Nazis during World War Two, the Vatican's saint-making department said on Tuesday.

The service to beatify Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children will be held on Sunday in the Polish town of Markowa where they died in March 1944. The family was killed by German military police for sheltering a family of Jews.

The Ulmas hid them for a year and a half and were shot with them when Nazi guards discovered them.

Beatification is the last step before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican media have noted that it is the first time that an entire family has been honoured together in this manner.

However, the Vatican's Dicastery for the Causes of Saints clarified that the beatification would not include an unborn child, as has been claimed by several media reports in the past few days.

Wiktoria Ulma was heavily pregnant and gave birth as she was killed, giving her youngest son a "blood baptism", the dicastery said.

On its website, the Vatican department says the baby boy's body was found when the family was exhumed to give them "a more dignified" burial. The other six Ulma children executed by the Nazis were aged between 18 months and seven, it added.

Pope Francis, who has just returned from a trip to Mongolia, is not scheduled to attend the ceremony.

(Reporting by Keith Weir and Alvise Armellini, editing by Nick Macfie)