Archive for the ‘Martyrs of World War II’ Category

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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Feast of St. Alexander Schmorell (July 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Cathedral of Holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, Munich, Germany, Site of the Shrine of Saint Alexander Schmorell

Image Source = Google Earth

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SAINT ALEXANDER SCHMORELL (SEPTEMBER 16, 1917-JULY 13, 1943)

Russian-German Orthodox Anti-Nazi Activist and Martyr, 1943

Also known as Aleksandr Gugovich Shmorel and Saint Alexander of Munich

St. Alexander Schmorell comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the U.S.A. (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople).

Schmorell held dual German and Russian citizenship.  He, born in Orenburg, Russian Empire, on September 16, 1917, debuted during revolutionary times.  Hugo Schmorell, a dual German and Russian citizen, was a physician.  Nataliya Vvedenstkaya was a daughter of a Russian Orthodox priest.  Hugo and Nataliya had to leave Moscow because of anti-German hysteria during World War I.  Hugo had vital medical skills, though, so he practiced medicine in Orenburg, where Alexander debuted.  Nataliya died of typhoid fever when our saint was a year old.  Hugo married Elizabeth Hoffman, a nurse and a Roman Catholic, in 1920.

The family fled Russia and moved to Munich in 1921.  That city served as the geographical center of Schmorell’s life for the rest of his life.  Our young saint did experience difficulty adjusting to life in Germany.  For example, his teacher in the mandatory religion course at school told him to cross himself in the Roman Catholic manner (left to right), not in the Eastern Orthodox way (right to left.)  Schmorell disobeyed.

The Third Reich put Schmorell in some difficult situations.  Our saint always opposed Nazism.  He did not pretend that some Nazis were, to quote Donald Trump, speaking of violent American Neo-Nazis in 2017,

very fine people.

No, Schmorell understood that the “good Nazi” was an oxymoron.  Nazis, our saint knew, were deplorable.  He condemned evil plainly.  He could not complete his medical studies (begun in 1939) at the University of Hamburg because of the German military draft.  Schmorell entered the German Army as a medic.  Somehow, he got out of having to swear loyalty to Adolf Hitler.  The Army sent our saint to France, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union.

Schmorell was a German patriot; he opposed the Third Reich and worked for the destruction of that government.  In the summer of 1942, our saint and Hans Scholl (1918-1943) founded the White Rose, an anti-Nazi organization, in Munich.  They wrote, printed, and distributed leaflets encouraging people to rise up against the government.  Schmorell wrote of the Holocaust in one leaflet.  Another member of the White Rose was Sophie Scholl (1921-1943), sister of Hans.  Members of the White Rose, after having initially focused on Munich, spread out across the Third Reich in January 1943.  That February 18, Nazi authorities arrested the Scholls, executed four days later.  Schmorell, arrested in Munich on February 24, 1943, received the crown of martyrdom on July 13, 1943.  He was 25 years old.

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia glorified (canonized) Schmorell in 2012.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2020 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ALBERT DICKINSON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Saint Alexander Schmorell]

to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Blesseds Jozef Kurgawa and Wincenty Matuszewski (May 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Poland, 1927-1980

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED WINCENTY MATUSZEWSKI (MARCH 3, 1869-MAY 23, 1940)

and 

BLESSED JÓZEF KURGAWA (JANUARY 6, 1910-MAY 23, 1940)

Polish Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1940

Alternative feast days (as two of the 108 (Polish) Martyrs of World War II) = June 12

These two saints died because they were Roman Catholic priests.

Blessed Wincenty Matuszewski was a son of Józef and Józefa Matuszewski.  The native of Chruscienska, Wola, Lódzkie (now in Poland), debuted on March 3, 1869.  Our saint, a graduate of the major seminary in Wloclawek, became a priest on February 17, 1895.  He served in various parishes before he arrived in Osieciny in 1918.  Matuszewski was active in the life of the community.  He, the honorary president of the local fire brigade in town, helped poor people, won the respect of Germanic residents, and was on good terms with Jews.

Blessed Józef Kurgawa was a son of Jan and Józefa Kurgawa.  The native of Swierczyn, Wielkopolskie (now in Poland), debuted on January 6, 1910.  Our saint matriculated at the major seminary in Wloclawek in 1931.  He, ordained to the priesthood on June 14, 1936, served in Osieciny with Matuszewski.

Shortly after the German-Soviet partition and invasion of Poland, agents of the Gestapo arrested Matuszewski and Kurgawa.  Both priests became martyrs at Witowo, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland, on May 23, 1940.  Matuszewski was 71 years old.  Kurgawa was 30 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared both men Venerables and beatified them in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, PATRIARCH OF AMERICAN LUTHERANISM; HIS GREAT-GRANDSON, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGICAL PIONEER; AND HIS COLLEAGUE, ANNE AYRES, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERHOOD OF THE HOLY COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIE BILLIART, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY LULL, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, THEOLOGIAN, AND ECUMENIST

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants Blesseds Wincenty Matuszewski and Józef Kurgawa

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of St. Basil Martysz (May 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Poland, 1919-1927

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BASIL MARTYSZ (FEBRUARY 20, 1874-MAY 4, 1945)

Polish Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1945

Also known as Saint Vasily Martysz

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I have done no harm to anyone and I will not run away from anyone.  Christ did not run away.

–St. Basil (Vasily) Martysz, May 4, 1945

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St. Basil (Vasily) Martysz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (which canonized him in 2003) and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), which also observes his feast day.

Above:  Partitioned Poland in Europe, 1871

Image in the Public Domain

Martysz was originally a subject of the Russian Empire and a baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church.  He, born in Teratyn, Poland, Russia, on February 20, 1874, was a son of Alexander Martysz, a judge.  Alexander later retired from the bench and became a priest.  Our saint and his father visited New York, New York, in 1884.  Vladimir, Russian Orthodox Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, and therefore in charge of Russian Orthodox Church work in the United States, from 1887 to 1891, noticed young Basil’s beautiful singing voice.  Bishop Vladimir predicted that the boy would become a priest.  Furthermore, the bishop predicted that he (the bishop) would invite St. Basil to serve in the American diocese.  Our saint did become a priest.  He studied theology under St. Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925) at the seminary in Chelon, Russia.  Martysz, ordained to the diaconate in the summer of 1899, married Olga Nowik.  He, ordained a priest in in December 1900, departed for Alaska with Olga.  He served under St. Tikhon, who had become the Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska in 1898.  St. Tikhon changed the name of the diocese to the Diocese of the Aleutians and North America in 1900.  This became the Archdiocese of the Aleutians and North America in 1905.

Martysz remained in North America until 1912.  He served first in Alaska.  Our saint was responsible for churches and chapels on Spruce and Woody Islands, near Kodiak.  He and his family sacrificed in frontier conditions.  Our saint spent weeks away from home, traveling by kayak, as Olga raised their first two children, daughters born in 1902 and 1904.  The family lived in Afognak then in Kodiak.  Martysz also taught in the church school and in two ecclesiastical homes for poor children.  The family left the wilds of Alaska for the contiguous United States.  A son joined the family in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania, in 1906.  A third daughter arrived two years later.  Then the family lived in, in order:  Old Forge, Pennsylvania; Waterbury, Connecticut; West Troy, New York; Edmonton, Alberta; and Wostok, Alberta.  Our saint became the archdiocesan dean for Alberta and Manitoba while at Wostok.

The Martysz family returned to Poland in 1912.  They settled in Sosnowiec.  Our saint served as the parish priest and as a teacher at the local girls’ high school.  Then World War I broke out in the summer of 1914.  Russian Orthodox priests were technically civil servants with orders to evacuate.  Bishop Vladimir, back in Russia, provided the Martysz family with an apartment at St. Andronicus Monastery, Moscow.  Our saint taught religious education classes in Valdai until the Bolshevik Revolution (1917f).  Then he earned his living unloading railroad cars and became a target for the Red Army.

Above:  Poland in Europe, 1919

Image in the Public Domain

The Martysz family returned to Poland, newly independent, in 1919.  They went back to Sosnowiec briefly.  That September, they moved to Warsaw, for our saint accepted a new position.  He was in charge of Orthodox Affairs in the Religious Ministry of the War Department.  He forced and organized the Orthodox chaplaincy in the Polish Army.  Martysz, promoted to colonel in 1921, became that head of that chaplaincy.  He also received the title of archpriest from the Church.

Martysz also aldvised Metropolitans of Warsaw and All Poland.  Metroplitan George and our saint worked for the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate.  After the assassination of Metropolitan George on February 8, 1923, Martysz continued to work for Polish Orthodox autocephaly with Metropolican Dionysius.  The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church in 1925.  St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (1917-1925), died on April 25.  The office of Patriarch of Moscow remained vacant until 1943.  The Moscow Patriarchate recognized Polish autocephaly in 1948.

Martysz remained the head of the Orthodox chaplaincy in the Polish Army until he retired in 1936.  During the years he held this job, he labored faithfully.  For example, he supervised ministry to Ukrainian internees along the Polish border immediately after World War I.  Our saint appointed and trained chaplains for them.  Martysz also celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian for more than 5,000 internees at one camp on July 8, 1921.

Our saint, Olga, and their widowed mothers settled in Teratyn in 1936.  Retirement was peaceful for a few years.  During World War II life became difficult.  The village dwindled.  Both mothers died.  Olga died in 1943.  Helen (our saint’s youngest daughter), her husband, and their daughter moved in, to support the retired archpriest.  In the final days of World War II, bandits searching for wealth were breaking into homes and killing the inhabitants.  Our saint, 71 years old, refused to leave his home.  He suffered terribly before he died.  The men who killed him kicked and nearly killed his pregnant daughter, who miscarried.

The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America list Martysz as a martyr.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF ELLEN GATES STARR, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint Basil Martysz:

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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