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Courage and generosity: Pope prays Polish priest-martyrs will inspire us


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 04/26/23

On April 29 at St. Joseph Shrine where Dachau survivors returned every year, Poland will have its Day of Remembrance.

The example of the some 2,000 Polish priests who were killed by the Nazis should inspire us to generosity in the service of God, Pope Francis said at the end of the general audience this April 26.

In his greeting to Polish-speaking pilgrims the Pope referred to the “Remembrance Day of the Martyrdom of Polish Clergy during the Second World War,” which will be held April 29 at the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Kalisz, in central Poland.

Find out more about the shrine, and St. Joseph’s care of the priests in Dachau, below:

As he does every Wednesday, the Pope also invited prayers for “the martyred Ukraine.”

“I hope that the witness of the Polish martyrs will inspire priests, consecrated persons, the lay faithful, and especially young people, to courage and generosity in the service of God and their brothers and sisters,” said Pope Francis.

According to the Polish episcopate, of the 10,000 diocesan priests present in the country before World War II, the Nazis killed about 2,000. In addition to these clerics who fell victim to Hitler’s regime, there were about 370 non-ordained religious (out of 8,000) and 280 nuns (out of 17,000).

Many priests were deported, including some 1,700 to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany alone, where Poles made up the majority of the clerics in captivity. About half perished, and the last priest survivor passed away in 2016.

In addition, Polish clergy and religious communities also paid a heavy price due to the abuses of the Red Army in the Soviet occupation zone, and then after the reconstitution of a Polish state, put under the tutelage of the USSR. After the war, murders of priests by communist militiamen continued until the 1980s.

PolandPope FrancisPriesthoodWorld War II
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