News About Saints, Saints Stories

Heroic Layman Killed by Nazis Declared a Martyr

From Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2016 / 01:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis moved eight martyrs a step further on the path to sainthood, one of whom is Josef Mayr-Nusser, an Italian layman killed for refusing to swear an oath to Hitler during the Second World War.

The Pope’s recognition of Mayr-Nusser as a martyr was announced July 8 following an audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Born Dec. 27, 1910 in the northern Italian city of Bolzano, Mayr-Nusser grew up on a farm and was instilled with Christian values by his parents from a young age.

Since his family was poor and his older brother Jakob was in seminary studying for the priesthood, Mayr-Nusser didn’t study himself, but worked on the farm and later as the clerk for the Eccel company in Bolzano.

He dedicated much of his free time to reading, including many religious works. Among his favorites were the works of Frederic Ozanam, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More, and the life of St. Vincent de Paul.

At the age of 22 he joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an international Catholic volunteer organization dedicated to serving the poor and disadvantaged, in an effort to imitate the charity of the saint.

Mayr-Nusser was also involved in Catholic Action, and became head its division in the Diocese of Trent in 1934. In 1937 he became president of the Bolzano branch of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, spending a large amount of his time visiting the poor and providing them with both material and spiritual support.

When World War II flared up in Europe in 1939, Mayr-Nusser wasted no time in joining the anti-Nazi movement “Andreas Hofer Bund.”

However, a few years later civil war also broke out in Italy following the 1943 ousting of Benito Mussolini from power, which led to the German occupation of the northern half of the country.

The Nazi regime had established the “Schutzstaffel,” or “protective squadron.” The regime called not only on local men from Nazi Germany to join the squad, but they also took volunteers and conscripted men from both occupied and non-occupied territories.

Mayr-Nusser was among those conscripted from northern Italy, and so in 1944 was enrolled in an SS unit, forcing him to leave his wife and newborn son for training in Prussia.

However, when it came time for the SS members to swear an oath to Hitler, Mayr-Nusser refused.

According to a fellow comrade, he was “pensive and worried,” but told the general with a “strong voice” that “I cannot take an oath to Hitler in the name of God. I cannot do it because my faith and conscience do not allow it.”

Although his friends and tried to convince him to retract his statement and take the oath, Mayr-Nusser refused, believing that Nazi ideals could in no way be reconciled with Christian ethics and values.

As a result he was jailed while he awaited trial. In 1945 he was sentenced to death for treason, and was ordered to march to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was to be shot by firing squad.
However, he fell ill with dysentery along the way and died Feb. 24, 1945, before reaching the camp. When his body was discovered on the train, he had both a Bible and a rosary with him.

Mayr-Nusser’s cause for martyrdom was launched by the Diocese of Bolzano and was approved in 2005, allowing him to receive the title “Servant of God.” Now, Pope Francis’ recognition of his martyrdom has paved the way for his beatification.

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News About Saints

New Sainthood Causes Decrees for June 2016

VATICAN CITY – On June 14, Pope Francis received Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in a private audience. In the course of the audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation to promulgate decrees regarding:

the martyrdom of the Servants of God JOSÉ ÁLVAREZ-BENAVIDES DE LA TORRE, priest of the diocese of Almería, and 114 COMPANIONS, priests. consecrated persons and laypersons killed in odium fidei between 1936 and 1939 in the religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War;

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God ANTONÍN CYRIL STOJAN, archbishop of Olomouc; born on 22 May 1851 in Beňov, Přerov (Czech Republic) and died on 29 September 1923 in Olomouc (Czech Republic);

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God VICENTE GARRIDO PASTOR, priest of the archdiocese of Valencia and founder of the Secular Institute of the Workers of the Cross; born on 12 November 1896 in Valencia (Spain) and died there on 16 April 1975;

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God JOSÉ BARDOMIANO DE JESÚS GUZMÁN FIGUEROA (in religion: PABLO MARÍA), professed priest of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Most Holy Trinity ; born on 25 September 1897 in Cuanamuco, Moroléon, Guanajuato (Mexico) and died on 17 February 1967 in Mexico City (Mexico);

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God FILIPPO LO VERDE (in religion: LUIGI), professed cleric of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals; born on 20 December 1910 in Tebourba, Aryanah (Tunisia) and died on 12 February 1932 in Palermo (Italy);

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God BERNARDO VAZ LOBO TEIXEIRA DE VASCONCELOS (in religion: BERNARDO OF THE ANNUNCIATION), professed cleric of the Order of Saint Benedict (Annunciation Congregation); born on 07 July 1902 in São Romão do Corgo, Braga (Portugal) and died on 04 July 1932 in Foz do Douro, Porto (Portugal);

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God JOSEFA OLIVER MOLINA (in religion: MARÍA ELISEA), founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Virgin of Mount Carmel; born on 09 July 1869 in Benidoleig, Alicante (Spain) and died on 17 December 1931 in Orihuela, Alicante (Spain); and,

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God MARÍA DE JESÚS GUÍZAR BARRAGÁN (in religion: MARÍA OF THE MERCIFUL LOVE OF JESUS), founder of the Guadalupan Handmaids of Christ the Priest; born on 11 November 1899 in Cotija, Michoacan (Mexico) and died on 06 January 1973 in Tulpetlac, Estado de México (Mexico) .

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Church News, News About Saints

Another One Bites the Dust

Another beatification cause has apparently dimmed into oblivion.

C’est la vie. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. So everything goes. That holds for canonization causes, too.

They either end in success or fade into nothingness. And while for the latter an imprint may remain, perhaps just a faint one, their dust is blown away by history’s inexorable march, and we forget these heroic men and women. Continue reading

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News About Saints

Pope Slows Sainthood for Stepinac

In a recent posting, Dr. Robert Moynihan has some really interesting insights into why Pope Francis has slowed the process of canonization for Bl. Aloysius Stepinac, the martyred archbishop of Zagreb (d. 1960).

You can read said insights here.

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Saints Stories, Uncategorized

The Tough Nun Nurse Who Stood Up to the Nazis

Bl. Maria Restituta Kafka (1894-1943)
Feast: March 30
Beatified: June 21, 1998

We know the Nazis’ wickedness cowed many into silence, but not everyone. Take, for instance, Bl. Maria Restituta.

Born Helen Kafka, she was from a family of Czech extraction, and she grew up in Vienna. After leaving school at 15, Helen tried her hand at various jobs before settling on a nursing career with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity.

After several months, Helen asked her parents to join the order. When they refused, she ran away from home. Ultimately, her parents relented, and so the congregation accepted her. Helen took the name Restituta after an early martyr who had been beheaded and made her final vows at age 23 in 1918. (One source says that one of the meanings of “Restituta” is “obese.” Given her keen sense of humor, maybe she also chose the name as a joke? We can only speculate.)

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Her hospital’s best surgeon was difficult. Nobody wanted to work with him … except Sr. Restituta, and within a short time, she was running his operating room. Eventually, she became a world-class surgical nurse.

Sister was tough. People called her “Sr. Resolute” because of her stubbornness. Mostly, however, Restituta was easy-going and funny. After work, she’d visit the local pub and order goulash and “a pint of the usual.”

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Given her very vocal opposition to the Nazis, she was also brave. After Restituta hung a crucifix in every room of her hospital’s new wing, the Nazis ordered them taken down. She refused. The crucifixes stayed.

However, when the Gestapo found anti-Nazi propaganda on her, she was arrested and later sentenced to death for treason.

30 - Bl. Maria Restituta Kafka, martyr, mug shot

Sister’s mug shot

Bl. Restituta spent her remaining days ministering to other prisoners. As she approached the guillotine wearing a paper shirt and weighing just half her previous weight, her last words were, “I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ.”

She was the only “German” religious living in “Greater Germany” martyred during the Second World War. St. Edith Stein and her sister were living in the Netherlands before their deportation to Auschwitz.)

Fearing that Catholic Christians would promote her as a martyr, the Nazis did not hand over her body. Rather they buried it in a mass grave.

In the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber in Rome is a chapel dedicated to 20th century martyrs. The crucifix that hung from Bl. Restituta’s belt is kept there as a relic.

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