Continued from page 1

Forgiving “doesn’t mean you condone the wrong or you have to make yourself a victim again,” she says. It means “letting go of the bitterness and anger.”

“I don’t want to minimize anyone’s situation, hatred or hurt,” she added. “But I have lived it. … It is possible to forgive.”

Over the years, she has seen her simple message affect people including Holocaust survivors and family members who were long estranged. But she is especially amazed by the transformation of the prison warden.

A year after her visit to the prison, she said, “He came to me … and said, ‘Child, you don’t know what you did to me. That day you forgave a killer changed my life.’”

Before, he said, he had been consumed with revenge. As the days passed, his pain and anger just seemed to grow even stronger.

“But when you were able to forgive him,” the prison warden told Immaculee, “it was the first time I realized it was even possible to forgive.”

“And it was then,” she said, “that he felt free.”

Cheryl Wetzstein is on medical leave. This column originally appeared Dec. 21, 2008.