Archive for the ‘Martyrs of World War II’ Category

Feast of Blessed Nikolaus Gross (January 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Nikolaus Gross

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED NIKOLAUS GROSS (SEPTEMBER 30, 1898-JANUARY 23, 1945)

German Roman Catholic Opponent of Nazism, and Martyr, 1945

Blessed Nikolaus Gross comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Gross, born in Niederwenigern, German Empire, on September 30, 1898, gave his life in the cause of opposing institutionalized injustice.  Our saint’s father was a miner.  Gross was also a miner (1915-1920).  Then he left the mines yet remained active in union politics.  Our saint, a member of the Christian Mineworkers’ Trade Union (1917f) and Saint Anthony’s Miners’ Association (1918f), had been taking night classes before quitting mining.  His post-mining activities included:

  1. Serving as the secretary of the Christian Mineworkers’ Trade Union (1920-1921);
  2. Serving as the assistant editor of that union’s newspaper (1921-1922);
  3. Serving as a union secretarial worker in Waldenburg, Lower Silesia (1922), in Zwickau (1922-1924) then in Bottrop (1924-1926);
  4. Serving as the assistant editor of the newspaper of the Catholic Workers’ Movement (1927-1929); and
  5. Serving as the general editor of that publication (1929f).

In the meantime, the misnamed National Socialist Party, or the Nazi Party, was rising.  It was actually fascist, not socialist.  Gross, in his editorial capacity, opposed the Nazis.  The Nazi-controlled government banned his newspaper for three weeks in 1933, for another short period of time in early 1935, and permanently in November 1938.  After the permanent banning, the publication continued illegally.

The assassination plot against Adolf Hitler failed on July 20, 1944.  In the wake of that event, Nazi authorities arrested Gross, who had not been involved in the conspiracy.  Our saint, apprehended on August 12, 1944, went to trial on the charge of treason.  The verdict was guilty, of course.  The sentence, imposed on January 15, 1945, was death.  Eight days later, he died by hanging.  Our saint was 46 years old.  Nazi authorities had the corpse cremated and the cremains scattered at a sewage plant.

Survivors included our saint’s wife, Elisabeth Koch (1901-1971), whom he married on May 24, 1923, and six of the couple’s seven children.  Four or five of those children survived to witness Pope John Paul II declare their father a Venerable then a Blessed in 2001.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDER OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF CARLTON C. BUCK, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, MUSICIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD KENNEDY, U.S. METHODIST BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Nikolaus Gross

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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Blessed Narcyz Putz (December 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Poland, 1927-1980

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED NARCYZ PUTZ (OCTOBER 28, 1877-DECEMBER 5, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1942

Alternative feast day = June 12 (Polish Martyrs of World War II)

Blessed Narcyz Putz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Putz was originally a subject of the Russian Empire.  He, born in Sieraków (near Warsaw), on October 28, 1877, was a son of Józefa Brodniewicz and her husband, innkeeper Wladyslaw Putz.  Our saint completed his local education in 1898 then studied theology in Poznan and Gniezno.

Putz, ordained to the priesthood on December 5, 1901, served in various parishes.  Our saint also became active in Polish patriotic organizations.  With the independence of Poland (1919), after World War I, Putz entered a new phase of his life.  He served at Bydzoscz (1920-1025) then at Poznan (1925-1939).  Our saint fulfilled the usual priestly duties, and was a capable youth pastor.  Putz was also active in civic life, especially in matters related to public libraries, public parks, public theaters, and local economic development.

German forces invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  Nazi authorities arrested Putz twice.  They apprehended him on October 4, 1939, then released him two weeks later.  The second arrest–that of November 9, 1939–was permanent.  Nazi authorities eventually transferred Putz to the concentration camp at Dachau then to the concentration camp at Gusen then back to the concentration camp at Dachau.  During his incarceration, our saint suffered torments and ministered to his fellow prisoners.  Putz, suffering from heart disease and pneumonia, died at Dachau on December 5, 1942.  Our saint was 67 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared Putz a Venerable then beatified him in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOANNA, MARY, AND SALOME, WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Narcyz Putz

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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Venerable Jan Franciszek Macha (December 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Venerable Jan Franciszek Macha

Image in the Public Domain

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VENERABLE JAN FRANCISZEK MACHA (JANUARY 18, 1914-DECEMBER 3, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1942

Alternative feast day = June 12 (Polish Martyrs of World War II)

Venerable Jan Franciszek Macha comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Macha, born a Russian subject, grew up in independent Poland.  He debuted in what is now Chozrów, Poland, on January 18, 1914.  Our saint was one of four children of Pawel Macha and Anna Cofalka.  Young Jan grew up in a devout household.  He, having perceived his vocation to the priesthood, applied to the Silesian Theological College in 1933.  That application failed, so our saint briefly studied law.  However, the second application, in 1934, succeeded.  Macha joined the Sacred Order of Deacons on May 1, 1938, then became a priest on June 25, 1939.

Europe was descending into World War II, and Macha understood that his life and priesthood would be brief.  They were holy, however.  Our saint, assigned to St. Josef Parish, Ruda Slaska, in the summer of 1939, ministered to his flock faithfully under wartime conditions.  German forces invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  Merely being a Roman Catholic priest was sufficient to receive a death sentence from Nazi officials.  Macha tended to his congregation spiritually and raised funds to help the poor.  He did this until his arrest by agents of the Gestapo, at Katowice, on September 5, 1941.

Macha spent the rest of his short life as a prisoner of the Third Reich.  Nazi officials interrogated, abused, and humiliated him.  They moved Macha from prison to prison.  Our saint prayed for God to forgive them.  Macha, sentenced to death on July 17, 1942, went to the guillotine, at Katowice, shortly after Midnight on December 3, 1942.  He was 28 years old.  Prison authorities refused requests for a proper burial.

Holy Mother Church has formally recognized Macha.  Pope Francis declared him a Venerable in 2019.  The Vatican has approved our saint for advancement to the status of beatus.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed that ceremony.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNADINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FOSTER, ENGLISH MORAVIAN BISHOP, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF PETER JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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Almighty and everlasting God,

who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your holy martyr,

Venerable Jan Franciszek Macha;

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

that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his 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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Feast of Blessed Anna Kolesarova (November 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Anna Kolesárová

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ANNA KOLESÁROVÁ (JULY 14, 1928-NOVEMBER 22, 1944)

Slovak Roman Catholic Martyr, 1944

Blessed Anna Kolesáarová comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Blessed Anna was a native of Czechoslovakia.  She, born in the Michalovce District on July 14, 1928, received the sacrament of baptism on July 15, 1928.  She was the third of three children in the blended family of Ján “Hruška” Kolesár and Anka (Kušnirová) Kolesárová.  The family was devout; the farmers lived their faith and attended Mass frequently.

Blessed Anna was a dutiful, simple, and modest girl.  Her mother died when our saint was ten years old.  Blessed Anna, therefore, added more household duties and care of her older brother Michal to her responsibilities.  She and friends also attended Mass often.

Germany occupied and annexed Czechoslovakia in states, immediately prior to and during World War II.  Slovakia became a rump, puppet state of the Third Reich.  Furthermore, sections of the former Slovak section of the former Czechoslovakia wound up within the borders of occupied Hungary.  Therefore, on November 22, 1944, Blessed Anna lived in Hungary.

In late 1944, the Soviet invasion of Germany and German-occupied territory from the east was underway.  Soldiers of the Red Army came to Blessed Anna’s hometown on November 22, 1944.  Ján, his children, and his neighbors hid in the Kolesár family’s cellar.  An intoxicated Soviet soldier discovered the hiding locals.  Ján, hoping the soldier would leave if he believed the hiding civilians were no threat, asked Blessed Anna to go to the kitchen and give him something to eat.  The soldier tried to rape Blessed Anna in the kitchen.  She resisted, escaped, and fled to the basement.  He followed her.  He killed her in front of her father.  Blessed Anna was 16 years old.

The communist government of Czechoslovakia forbade any mention of this martyrdom.  It also forbade gatherings at Blessed Anna’s grave.

Pope Francis declared our saint a Venerable then beatified her in 2018.  He affirmed that Blessed Anna had died in defensum castitatis.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR, 68

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Anna Kolesárová

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with her 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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Blessed Alicja Maria Jadwiga Kotowska (November 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Alicja Maria Jadwiga Kotowska

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ALICJA MARIA JADWIGA KOTOWSKA (NOVEMBER 20, 1899-NOVEMBER 11, 1939)

Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1939

Born Maria Jadwiga Kotowska

June 12 = Feast of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II

Blessed Alicja Maria Jadwiga Kotowska comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Maria Jadwiga Kotowska grew up a subject of the Russian Empire.  She, born in Warsaw on November 20, 1889, was the third of seven children of Jan Kotowski and Zofia (Barka) Kotowska.  The family was devout and Roman Catholic, and Jan was an organist.  Nuns in Warsaw educated our saint.

With the restoration of Polish independence in 1919, Kotowska, a nursing student, served her new country proudly.  During the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921), Soviet forces approached Warsaw in 1920.  She, as a Red Cross nurse, went to the front lines.

Kotowska joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection of Our Lord (the Resurrection Sisters) at Kety, near Bielsko, in 1922.  She had met some Resurrection Sisters while she was in nursing school.  Our saint, during her third year of nursing school, became Sister Alicja.  She made her first vows in 1924, returned to Warsaw, studied mathematics and natural sciences at the university, made her perpetual vows (1928), and defended her Master’s thesis in chemistry (1929).

Kotowska worked as a teacher and a nurse for most of the rest of her life.  She taught chemistry in Zoliborz, was a school nurse, and eventually ran the school.  In 1934, Kotowska became the director of a girls’ boarding school in Wejherowo.  She did this well, and won recognition for doing so.

After the Soviet-German partition of Poland (1939), Kotowska found herself in the German zone.  The Nazis closed the school at Wejherowo.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested our saint and took her to the prison in town.  The following November 11, Nazis shot many prisoners, including our saint.  In nine days, she would have been forty days old.

Pope John Paul II declared Kotowska a Venerable then beatified her in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HADEWIJCH OF BRABERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF KATHE KOLLWITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN ARTIST AND PACIFIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA, MONK, HERMIT, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 625

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power

your holy martyr Blessed Alicja Maria Jadwiga Kotowska

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with her 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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Blessed Jozef Jankowski (October 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Józef Jankowski

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JÓZEF JANKOWSKI (NOVEMBER 17, 1910-OCTOBER 16, 1941)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1941

June 12 = Feast Day of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II

Blessed Józef Jankowski comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Jankowski was originally a subject of the German Empire.  He, born in Czeczkove, Pomerania (now Czyczkowy, Poland), was the second of eight children of Robert and Michaline Jankowski. When our saint was eight years old, Poland became an independent country again.

Jankowski spent most of his life as a member of the Palotine order.  He joined in 1929 and made his final vows on August 5, 1931.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Gniezno on August 2, 1936, had a devotion to St. Teresa of Avila.  Jankowski was a youth minister–a school chaplain in the area of Oltarzew.  On March 31, 1941, he became the treasurer and director of novices at the seminary.  He, arrested and sent to Auschwitz, died on October 16, 1941.  A guard beat the 30-year-old priest to death.

Pope John Paul II declared Jankowski a Venerable then beatified him in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD THOMAS DEMBY AND HENRY BEARD DELANY, EPISCOPAL SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS FOR COLORED WORK

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTHONY, JOHN, AND EUSTATHIUS OF VILNIUS, MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347 

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT WANDREGISILUS OF NORMANDY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT LAMBERT OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENAIDA OF TARSUS AND HER SISTER, SAINT PHILONELLA OF TARSUS; AND SAINT HERMOINE OF EPHESUS; UNMERCENARY PHYSICIANS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Józef Jankowski

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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Maria Anna Kratochwil (October 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maria Anna Kratochwil 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA ANNA KRATOCHWIL (AUGUST 21, 1881-OCTOBER 2, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Nun and Martyr, 1942

Also known as Blessed Maria Antonina Kratochwil

June 12 = Feast Day of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II

Blessed Maria Anna Kratochwil come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Blessed Maria, Polish, came from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  (Independent Poland had ceased to exist in 1795.)  She, born in Witkowice near Ostrava, on August 21, 1881, grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family.  Her family was a foundry worker.  In 1885, when Blessed Maria was quite young, the family moved to Bielsko, near the mother’s hometown.

Blessed Maria spent most of her life in education.  In 1901, she joined the Congregation of School Sisters of Our Lady, an order devoted to education.  Our saint made her vows, as Sister Maria Antonina, in 1910.  She taught elementary students at Karwina (1906-1909, 1910-1917) and at Lwow (now Lviv, Ukraine) (1917-1925).  At Lwow, Blessed Maria also directed the Roman Catholic boarding school (1925-1932) and a school for candidates (1931-1939).

The Nazi-Soviet partition of Poland in late 1939 changed matters for the worse.  Our saint and her nuns lived inside the Soviet zone.  Agents of the NKVD closed the Polish schools.  Blessed Maria and her nuns moved to a convent in Mikaliczyn.  NKVD agents forced the nuns from that convent and forbade them to wear habits again.  Then Germany invaded the Soviet Union.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested Blessed Maria and six nuns at Lwow on July 9, 1942.

Conditions at the Nazi prison in Stanislawow (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine) were harsh.  Dozens of women shared one cell.  Blessed Maria protested the treatment of the Jewish prisoners.  For this, she endured a beating, after which she could no longer lie on her back.  Authorities released Blessed Maria and the six nuns in late September 1942, after tortures and interrogations.  Yet Blessed Maria died of her injuries, in a hospital, on October 2.  She was 61 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared Blessed Maria a Venerable then beatified her in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF JAMES LLOYD BRECK, “THE APOSTLE OF THE WILDERNESS”

THE FEAST OF CARLO CARRETTO, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN PAYNE AND CUTHBERT MAYNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1582

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BERNARDIN, CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIDONIUS, SAINT EUSTACE OF LYON, AND HIS DESCENDANTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power

your holy martyr Blessed Maria Anna Kratochwil

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with her the crown on life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 Blessed Jozef Stanek (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Poland

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JOZEF STANEK (DECEMBER 4, 1916-SEPTEMBER 23, 1944)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1944

June 12 = Feast Day of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II

Above:  Blessed Jozef Stanek

Image in the Public Domain

Blessed Jozef Stanek comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Stanek led a short and devout life.  He, born into a Roman Catholic family in Lapsze Nizne, Austria-Hungary (now Poland), on December 4, 1916, was originally a subject of the Hapsburg Dynasty.  When our saint was a young child, the Republic of Poland came into existence, and he became a Polish citizen.  Our saint, orphaned at the age of six years, attended a Pallotine school in Wadowice, Poland.  Stanek, aged eighteen years, became a Pallotine novice in 1935.  He joined the ranks of priests on April 7, 1941, at the age of twenty-four years.

Being a Roman Catholic priest in the German-occupied part of Poland made one a prime target of the Gestapo.  Stanek ministered for about three and a half years.  On August 1, 1944, Polish forces in Warsaw attacked German occupation forces.  Soviet troops were in the area, but they did not support the uprising, which German forces suppressed on October 2.  Stanek did not live long enough to see the end of that rebellion.

Stanek functioned as a chaplain to the Polish insurgents.  He provided sacraments to Polish soldiers and civilians.  When our saint had an opportunity to escape from Warsaw, he gave up his seat for an injured man.  On September 22, 1944, Stanek visited Nazi officials, to negotiate a settlement and save lives.  The authorities arrested him, beat him, and martyred him instead.  Stanek was 27 years old.  They left his corpse to hang in public, as an example.

Pope John Paul II recognized Stanek as a Venerable then beatified him in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Jozef Stanek

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.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 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 St. Gorazd of Prague (September 4)   5 comments

Above:  Saint Gorazd of Prague

Image in the Public Domain

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MATÊJ PAVLIK (MAY 26, 1879-SEPTEMBER 4, 1942)

Orthodox Bishop of Moravia and Silesia

Orthodox Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

Hierarch of the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia

Martyr, 1942

Feast Day (Old Calendar) = August 22

Feast Day (New Calendar) = September 4

St. Gorazd of Prague comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via a number of Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, in communion with and not in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Our story begins in the ninth century of the Common Era.

St. Methodius (of and “St. Cyril” fame) was one of the great missionaries in Eastern Europe.  He and St. Cyril were the “Apostles to the Slavs” and the “Fathers of Slavonic Literature.”  Sts. Cyril and Methodius invented the Cyrillic Alphabet.  St. Methodius, the Archbishop of Sirmium, had obtained Papal permission to use the Slavonic liturgy in his see, which included Moravia.  This Papal permission to utilize the Slavonic liturgy rankled many German bishops.  Then St. Methodius died on April 6, 885.  His designated successor was one GorazdPope Stephen V (or VI, depending on how one counts; reigned September 885-September 14, 891), under the influence of German bishops, summoned Gorazd to Rome, banned the Slavonic liturgy, imposed the Latin liturgy, and appointed a different archbishop to succeed St. Methodius.  Therefore, disciples of St. Methodius fled to Bulgaria, joined the Orthodox Church, and maintained the Slavonic liturgy.  

Our story skips a few centuries now.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire favored Roman Catholicism and persecuted Eastern Orthodoxy.  

Above:  Czechoslovakia, Post-World War I-September 1938

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Matêj Pavlik, born in Hrubavrbka, Moravia, Austria-Hungary, on May 26, 1879, came from a devout Roman Catholic family.  Pavlik graduated from the theological seminary in Olomouc and joined the ranks of priests.  Our saint pursued his interest in Sts. Cyril and Methodius and studied Eastern Orthodoxy.

In the wake of Austro-Hungarian defeat in World War I, that empire came apart.  One result of this imperial dismemberment was the creation of new states, such as Czechoslovakia.  Many Slavs who had been subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire took the opportunity to leave the Roman Catholic Church and convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.  Pavlik was one of them; he, as Gorazd, became an Orthodox priest.  Our saint’s new name indicated continuity with the ninth century.  These converts joined the Serbian Orthodox Church.  That denomination consecrated St. Gorazd as the Bishop of Moravia and Silesia at the Cathedral of the Holy Archangel Michael, Belgrade, on September 25, 1921.  Dmitri, the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch, was the chief consecrator.

St. Gorazd, as the Bishop of Moravia and Silesia, did much to rebuild Eastern Orthodoxy in Czechoslovakia.  He tended to his growing flock of converts, supervised the construction of chapels and churches, and oversaw the translation of service books.  Our saint also resisted attempts by many Roman Catholic priests to convince him to renounce Eastern Orthodoxy.  Yet Antonin Cyril Stojan, the Roman Catholic Suffragan Bishop of Olomouc (1921-1923), opposed those efforts.  He ordered priests under his jurisdiction:

Leave Pavlik alone.  You are not worthy to tie his laces.  It would be good if everyone were like Pavlik.

Above:  Czechoslovakia, Immediately after the Annexation of the Sudetenland, 1938

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

German occupation and World War II changed circumstances for the people of Czechoslovakia, as well as for St. Gorazd’s flock, in particular.  The Third Reich swallowed up Czechoslovakia in stages.  The rump state of Slovakia became a German puppet state.  St. Gorazd, once under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, came under the jurisdiction of Seraphim, the Metropolitan of Berlin and Germany, part of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.  Our saint recognized the threat the Nazis posed to his countrymen and his flock.

Above:  Czechoslovakia, September 1939

Scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942), S.S. Obergruppenführer, Acting Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (1941-1942), was the face of that menace for a time.  He was one of the architects of the “Final Solution”–the Holocaust.  Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague,” was responsible for the deaths of all twelve million or so victims of the Holocaust, as well as nearly two million Czechs, apart from the Holocaust.  He also violently suppressed Czech culture.

Above:  Sts. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, Prague

Image Source = Google Earth

On May 27, 1942, soldiers of the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile ambushed Heydrich in Prague and fatally wounded him.  He died a week later.  Those soldiers hid in the crypt of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, Prague.  About this time, St. Gorazd departed for Berlin, to participate in the consecration of Johann von Gardner (a.k.a. Philip) as the Bishop of Potsdam.  (Aside:  Gardner resigned in 1945, married, and lived until 1984.)  Before leaving Prague, our saint ordered that the soldiers find refuge somewhere else.  He knew that the threat of Nazi reprisals against the Czech Orthodox Church was real.

On June 18, Nazi officials discovered the hiding place, excommunicated the resistance fighters, and began the predictable reprisals.  St. Gorazd took full responsibility and tried to limit the reprisals.  Our saint, arrested on June 27, 192, suffered tortures before a firing squad executed him at the Kobylisz Shooting Range on September 4, 1942.  He was 63 years old.  St. Gorazd’s self-sacrifice did not limit the reprisals.  Nazis also shot two priests at the Cathedral, murdered the men of the village of Lidice, sent the village women and children to labor camps, suppressed the Czech Orthodox Church, closed all Czech Orthodox congregations, and exiled all Czech Orthodox priests to German labor camps.  About 550 people died in Nazi reprisals.  Metropolitan Seraphim refused to condemn St. Gorazd.

Above:  Czechoslovakia, 1945

Scanned from then Postwar supplement to Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

The Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia revived again after World War II.  The Czech Church became self-governing in 1951 (according to the Patriarchate of Moscow) and in 1998 (according to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople).  The Church has existed in two parts–the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and the Orthodox Church in Slovakia–since the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in January 1, 1993.

This is my command, Love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.

–John 15:12-13, Helen Barrett Montgomery, The Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924)

St. Gorazd loved his flock so much that he sacrificed himself for it.  That sacrifice was not in vain; that flock survived underground for a few years then emerged numerically diminished yet spiritually intact.  Our saint also took up his cross and followed Christ.  St. Gorazd knew that the servant was not greater than the master (John 15:20).

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Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd, you laid down your life for your flock.

Thank you for the faithful example of Saint Gorazd of Prague,

who loved you and his Orthodox flock more than his life.

May we, who remember his life, be stalwart in Christian discipleship in our circumstances.

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

Ezekiel 34:1-16

Psalm 142

2 Timothy 4:6-8

John 15:12-21

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DEOGRATIAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CARTHAGE

THE FEAST OF EMMANUEL MOURNIER, PERSONALIST PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF JAMES DE KOVEN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HUGHES, BRITISH SOCIAL REFORMER AND MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM EDWARD HICKSON, ENGLISH MUSIC EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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Feast of Blessed Franciszek Dachtera (August 23)   2 comments

Above:  Blessed Franciszek Dachtera

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED FRANCISZEK DACHTERA (SEPTEMBER 22, 1910-AUGUST 23,1944)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1944

June 12 = Feast of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II

Blessed Franciszek Dachtera comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

Dachtera was originally a subject of the German Empire.  His birthplace, the village of Salno, near Bydgoscz, was ethnically Polish.  Our saint, born on September 22, 1910, spent the first few years of his life as a subject of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  Then Germany surrendered in late 1918, followed by the formation of the restored Republic of Poland in 1919.

Dachtera, having graduated from public school in Bydgoscz then the seminary in Gniezno, became a priest in the Archdiocese of Gniezno on June 10, 1933.  Our saint taught religion in Bydgoscz from 1935 to 1939.  In August 1939, the Archbishop of Gniezno appointed Dachtera to the parish in Lubowo.  Before our saint could start serving there, Germany invaded Poland, the European Theater of World War II started, and he became the chaplain of the Polish 62nd Infantry Regiment, with the rank of captain.

Dachtera’s service as an army chaplain was brief.  He became a prisoner of war on September 17, 1939, during the Battle of Bzura.  Then the final period of our saint’s life began.

Dachtera was a prisoner at the Totheberg camp near Fulda until April 25, 1940.  Next, he suffered at the Buchenwald concentration camp until July 7, 1942.  Then he suffered at the Dachau concentration camp.  Our saint comforted other prisoners.  At Dachau, other inmates called him “the Cherub.”  Dachtera, a guinea pig for allegedly medical experiments, suffered from malaria four times.  “Doctors” infected him on purpose.  Our saint also suffered from damage to certain organs because of these experiments.  He spent his final six months in constant pain.

Dachtera, aged 33 years, died at Dachau on August 23, 1944.  The cause of death was an injection of poison.

Pope John Paul II declared Dachtera a Venerable then beatified him in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 8, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWARD KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF FRED B. CRADDOCK, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND RENOWNED PREACHER

THE FEAST OF GEOFFREY STUDDERT KENNEDY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN HAMPDEN GURNEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF GOD, FOUNDER OF THE BROTHERS HOSPITALLERS OF SAINT JOHN OF GOD

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Franciszek Dachtera

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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