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Franciscan Spirit Blog

The Franciscan Saints: Franz Jägerstätter

Jun 7, 2021
The Franciscan Saints: Franz Jägerstätter

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter: Third Order Franciscan, conscientious objector, and martyr (1907–1943)


Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian peasant and devout Catholic, was executed for refusing to serve in Hitler’s army. He was known in his village of St. Radegund as a man of honesty and principle, devoted to his family and his faith, a sacristan in his parish church, who in 1940 had joined the Third Order of St. Francis.

He was also known as a fervent opponent of the Nazis—the only member of his village to vote against the 1938 Anschluss that incorporated Austria into “Greater Germany.” Nevertheless, his singular act of resistance came as a surprise.

In 1943, when served with an induction notice, Franz turned himself in and announced his refusal to take a military oath. Before taking this stand he had sought counsel from his parish priest and even the local bishop. They had each advised him to do his duty and serve his Fatherland. But Franz believed the Nazis were a satanic movement and that any compromise would constitute a mortal sin.

In prison, he spurned ongoing appeals to save himself, convinced that he could not prolong his life at the price of his immortal soul. In this case, obedience to Christ meant disobedience to the state. But he took comfort in the knowledge that “not everything which the world considers a crime is a crime in the eyes of God. And I have every hope that I need not fear the eternal Judge because of this crime.” 

Franz was beheaded on August 9, 1943. For years, his story was little known beyond his family and fellow villagers. In time, however, his story spread, and he was recognized as a heroic witness to conscience. His sacrifice, seemingly fruitless in his own time, would illuminate the path of generations to come. He was beatified in 2007 in a ceremony attended by his widow and surviving children.


Neither prison nor chains nor sentence of death can
rob a man of the faith and his own free will. God gives
so much strength that it is possible to bear any suffering,
a strength far stronger than all the might of the world.
The power of God cannot be overcome.
Blessed Franz Jägerstätter



Comments

Submitted by Arlene Piccolo (not verified) on Mon, 06/07/2021 - 05:20 AM

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At some point in history there must be a clear reconciliation and healing between the silence of the Catholic Church and Vatican and the slaughter of 6,000,000 Jews plus millions of Gypsies, Homosexuals, Opponents of Nazi Germany's dogma. Three Popes have worked behind the scenes even before their pontification - Saint John 23, Saint John Paul II and Pope Francis. And yet there exists so much wrong understanding, wrong thinking, blatant racism and antisemitism. It does not make sense since Jesus His Mother Mary (Miriam) and HIs earthly father who cared for him, Joseph were all Jews as was His grandparents Anne and Joachim and all the disciples. The basic tenets and prayers all come from the Old Testament. May we heal and love each other and someday recognize the 6,000,000 as martyrs for God's will. Amen

During WWII & the Holocaust there were actually more Catholics & other Christians that tried to fight Hitler & protect Jewish people than the Secular world chooses to believe. It is now acknowledged that the play THE DEPUTY did NOT give an accurate portrayal of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. He initially spoke out boldly against the Nazis until he discovered that his statements were making the situation worse. Pope Pius XII & others did a lot "behind the scenes" to help rescue Jewish people behind the scenes. More information about the positive actions of Pope Pius XII & other Catholics has been coming out!

While the secular world often has an agenda in their portrayal of this topic, one still has to be open to the truth of it – however painful. It is not unlike the recent scandal of child sexual abuse by priests. Only by openly confronting these painful topics can we make sure they never happen again.

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