Archive for the ‘Martyrs of World War I’ Category

Feast of St. Maxim Sandovich (August 7)   1 comment

Above:  Grab, Poland

Image Source = Google Earth

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SAINT MAXIM TIMOFEYEVICH SANDOVICH (FEBRUARY 1, 1888-AUGUST 6, 1914)

Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1914

Also known as Saint Maxim of Gorlice

Alternative feast day = September 6

Saint Maxim Sandovich comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Orthodox Church in Poland, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A. (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople).

Being an Eastern Orthodox Christian in the Austro-Hungarian Empire could be hazardous to one’s health.  The Roman Catholic establishment of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire regarded its Eastern Orthodox subjects as being disloyal to the Hapsburg Dynasty and loyal to the Russian Empire.  Religious persecution in the name of imperial security was par for the course.

St. Caesarius of Arles (468/470-543), writing regarding Christ’s command to take up one’s cross and follow him, commented:

What does this mean, “take up a cross”?  It means he will bear with whatever is troublesome, and in this very act he will be following me.  When he has begun to follow me according to my teaching and precepts, he will find many people contradicting him and standing in his way, many do not only deride but even persecute him.  Moreover, this is true, not only of pagans who are outside the church, but also of those who seem to be in it visibly, but are outside of it because of the perversity of their deeds.  Although these glory merely in the title of Christian, they continually persecute faithful Christians.  Such belong to the body of the church in the same way that bad blood is in the body.  

–Quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament II:  Mark (1998), 112

St. Maxim Sandovich came from a Greek Catholic family.  He, born in Zdynia, Poland, Austria-Hungary, on February 1, 1888, was a son of farmers Tymoteusz (Timofej) and Krystina Sandowicz (Sandovich).  The father was a cantor in the local Greek Catholic parish.  After attending local schools, our saint served spent several months as a novice at the Greek Catholic monastery in Krakow.  Yet attempts to Latinize the Greek Catholic Rite dissatsfied him.  Our saint left the Basilian Order and the monasery in 1904.  

St. Maxim left the Austro-Hungarian Empire for the Russian Empire.  There he became a novice at the Pochaev Lavra, a monastery now in the Ukraine.  Our saint went on to study for the Russian Orthodox priesthood at the seminary in Zhitomir (now in the Ukraine).  He graduated in 1911.  That year, St. Maxim also married Pelagia, a Russian Orthodox woman, and became a deacon then a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Then he returned to his homeland as a missionary and the parish priest at Grab (Hrab).

World War I was on the horizon.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire were enemies; each one belonged to a different coalition.  St. Maxim became a casualty of international politics and “national security.”

St. Maxim settled in at Grab (Hrab) with his family.  He celebrated his first Divine Liturgy at the parish on December 2, 1911.  Immediately, imperial officials forbade any more Divine Liturgies.  Our saint violated that edict repeatedly; he conducted Divine Liturgies in homes.  Austro-Hungarian officials kept fining and arresting him.  St. Maxim kept breaking the law.  He, arrested shortly before Pascha (Easter) 1912, remained in prison without trial for nearly two years.  The trial, which began on March 9, 1914, ended in an acquittal.  Immediately, our saint resumed his priestly duties in Grab (Hrab).

One may think of Acts 4:1-31 and 5:12-42, in which religious authorities in Jerusalem arrested Apostles and commanded them to cease preaching.  One may also remember the Apostles’ disobedience to that order:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council.  And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”  But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

–Acts 5:27-29, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

Postconventional Morality is superior to Conventional Morality.  Obedience to unjust laws and orders is immoral.

Shortly after St. Maxim’s release, World War I started.  He became a political prison again on August 4, 1914.  His parents, brothers, and wife joined him, on a forced, shackled march about 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) to prison in Gorlice.  In prison, each member of the family, unable to see other members of the family, spent time in his or her own cell.  On August 6, 1914, a firing squad executed the 28-year-old priest.

Pelagia, our saint’s wife, gave birth to the couple’s son, Maxim, in prison, in Gorlice.  The younger Maxim (d. 1991) eventually became an Orthodox priest and ministered in Gorlice.

Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I lifted the mutual excommunications, in effect since 1054.  The official position of the Roman Catholic Church regarding Eastern Orthodox churches is that the Eastern Orthodox have valid Apostolic orders.  Theological differences between the two communions have not ceased, but they have ceased telling each other they will go to Hell, at least.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO VALDIVIESO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LEON, AND MARTYR, 1495

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EMILY MALBONE, MORGAN, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF THE COMPANIONS OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF JAKOB HUTTER, FOUNDER OF THE HUTTERITES, AND ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1536; AND HIS WIFE, KATHARINE HUTTER, ANABAPTIST MARTYR, 1538

THE FEAST OF PAULA OF SAINT JOSEPH OF CALASANZ, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF MARY

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power, your holy martyr Saint Maxim Sandovich

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of Joseph and Michael Hofer (November 28)   8 comments

Above:  Alcatraz

Photographer = Theodor Horydczak

Image Source = Library of Congress

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JOSEPH HOFER (DIED NOVEMBER 28, 1918)

brother of

MICHAEL HOFER (DIED DECEMBER 2, 1918)

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U.S. HUTTERITE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS AND MARTYRS, 1918

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When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plenn, circa 1950

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Joseph and Michael Hofer come to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The persecution of Anabaptists by governments and private citizens is about as old as the Anabaptist movement, extant since the 1520s.  These days, when most accounts of religious persecution are of the persecution of members of one group by partisans of a group outside that religion, many people are prone to forget about the persecution of Christians by other Christians–of Protestants by Catholics, of Catholics by Protestants, of Protestants by other Protestants, of Protestants by Anglicans, of Anglicans by Protestants, and of Anabaptists by almost everyone else, for example.

Devout pacifists have long been more than inconvenient to governments accustomed to populations being obedient, loyal, and not inclined to ask too many questions, especially during wartime.

The Hutterites, members of the Hutterian Brethren, founded in 1527, have not been strangers to the consequences of being dangerously out-of-step.  Their founder, Jakob Hutter (1500-1536), died by burning at the stake, on imperial orders.  During the period (1917-1918) of active U.S. involvement in World War I, intolerance was rampant.  The federal government treated pacifistic conscientious objectors cruelly, as many Hutterite, Amish, Mennonite, and Quaker men learned firsthand.

Joseph and Michael Hofer were devout Hutterites when the U.S. military draft began in 1917.  Each brother was a husband and a father.  True to their religious principles, the Hofer brothers quietly refused either to commit or condone violence.  They refused military service.  They refuse even to wear a military uniform.  They were, however, open to non-military national service.

The U.S. Army abused the Hofer brothers and caused their premature deaths.  The Hofers, court-martialed and convicted, received 20-year sentences.  They served time at Alcatraz (a military prison at the time) and Leavenworth, Kansas.  Conditions in both prisons were inhumane.  At Alcatraz the brothers hung from their wrists for eight hours a day for two weeks.  The cells were damp.  The brothers endured beatings and contracted scurvy.  They came down with pneumonia at Leavenworth.  When authorities finally let the brothers’ family visit them, Joseph and Michael were nearly dead.

Guards disrespectfully dressed each corpse in a military uniform.

Those who commit and/or condone violence against those who nonviolently refuse to conform, to abandon their principles, do not impress me.  Actually, they earn my contempt, until or unless they repent.  This is a story as old as antiquity and as recent as current events.  This is story about Puritans hanging Quakers in the New England in the 1600s, about National Guardsmen shooting nonviolent protesters on college campuses during the Vietnam War era, about Spanish authorities abusing Catalans for simply queuing up to vote in a referendum on independence a few years ago, et cetera.

The simple, firm dignity and faithfulness of the Hofer brothers has become an enduring witness that continues to expose the perfidy of those who victimized them, directly or indirectly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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PROPER FOR MARTYRED CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS

Loving God, we remember the enduring and faithful witness of Joseph and Michael Hofer

and of all others who have steadfastly refused to condone or commit violence during times of war,

and who have become martyrs rather than betray their principles.

In our own day, we pray for those who continue to suffer for this reason,

and for those who persecute them.

May oppressors recognize the errors of their ways and cease to oppress.

May mutual respect and forbearance triumph over intolerance, anger, and hatred.

May divine love prevail.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jeremiah 38:1-13

Psalm 141

Revelation 7:9-17

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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Feast of Edith Cavell (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  A Stamp Depicting the Death of Edith Cavell

Image in the Public Domain

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EDITH LOUISA CAVELL (DECEMBER 4, 1865-OCTOBER 12, 1915)

English Nurse and Martyr, 1915

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I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.

–Edith Cavell

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Edith Cavell comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England, where her feast day is October 12.

Cavell, born in Swardeston, Norfolk, England, on December 4, 1865, grew up to become a pioneering nurse and a martyr.  Her father was a priest in The Church of England.  Our saint grew up in a loving home and shared a pleasant childhood with her siblings.  Cavell, a governess in Belgium (1890-1895), returned home and took care of her ailing father.  Next she studied nursing in London (1896-1898) and became a nurse.  After working in various hospitals, Cavell became the matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium, in 1907.  She revolutionized the nursing profession in Belgium and trained other nurses.

Cavell might have led a longer life had she not returned to Belgium in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I.  In the summer of 1914, when the Great War started, our saint was visiting relatives in Norfolk.  She knew she had to return to Belgium and work as a nurse, given the need for her abilities there.  Our saint, committed to saving lives, regardless of wartime politics, provided medical care to both Allied and Central Powers soldiers.  Saving the lives of military personnel of the Central Powers scandalized many on the Allied side.  On the other hand, when Cavell helped to smuggle more than 200 Allied soldiers out of German-occupied Belgium, she became a target for German military “justice.”  Our saint, arrested for treason on August 3, 1915, and later convicted, died via firing squad on the morning of October 12, 1915.  She was 49 years old.

On October 11, 1915, Cavell had told a visiting Anglican priest:

Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

Yet the British Government counted on bitterness and hatred toward the German Empire for executing her.  The British Government used her death as part of a military recruitment strategy.

Cavell’s story has become the basis of movies:

  1. Nurse and Martyr (1915),
  2. The Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell (1916),
  3. Nurse Cavell (1916),
  4. The Woman the Germans Shot (1918),
  5. Dawn (1928),
  6. Nurse Edith Cavell (1939), and
  7. Nurse Cavell (1948).

Cavell’s legacy stands for the propositions that human life is sacred, and that a state of war does not alter, minimize, or negate this reality.  Nationalism and patriotism have their places, but when they dehumanize the “other,” they become morally destructive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr Edith Cavell:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in her triumph may profit by her example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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