Friday 27 July 2012

Titus Brandsma, Carmelite, Martyr, 1881 - 1942

The life of Titus Brandsma began in the quiet countryside of Friesland, Holland, where he was born on February 23, 1881, and ended some sixty years later on July 26, 1942, in the notorious hospital of the Dachau concentration camp. Born Anno Brandsma, he completed high school Franciscans before entering the Carmelites in Boxmeer in September of 1898, where he adopted his father's name, Titus.  Titus showed interest in journalism and writing, two activities which would occupy much of his time later on in life. Ordained on June 17, 1905, and after further studies at the Roman Gregorian University. The Archbishop of Utrecht appointed  Titus as spiritual advisor to the staff members of the Catholic newspapers in Holland; around the same time, the policies of Adolf Hitler  began to be felt in Holland. These were criticized by Titus in his teaching and in the press even after the Nazi occupation of Holland  and the open persecution of the Jews. Catholic hierarchy.  Following the Church's refusal to print Nazi propaganda in their newspapersand his personal delivery to Catholic editor of a letter from the bishops ordering them not to comply with Nazi orders to print official Nazi publications Titus was arrested on January 19, 1942 at the Boxmeer monastery and interned at Scheveningen and Amersfoort in Holland before being sent to Dachau  on June 19, 1942. His constitution quickly deteriorated under the harsh regime, forcing him to enter the camp hospital in the third week of July. There he became the subject of biological experimentation, before being killed by lethal injection on July 26, 1942.
Living in Nazi occupied Holland, being arrested and made a prisoner by the Nazis and, eventually, being sent to die in the concentration camp of Dachau, were all extreme circumstances which tested Titus’ commitment to peace and reconciliation. His witness during these events offers us inspiration, concrete examples of how he practiced what he preached, and models for us the presence of faith in the most inhuman conditions.

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