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‘Patriarch of Burma,’ priests martyred by Nazis among newly beatified

Catholic World News - June 27, 2011

On June 25, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the beatification of three priests martyred by the Nazi regime in 1943. An estimated 5,000 attended an open-air Mass in Lübeck, the northern German city where the three ministered.

A Lutheran pastor, Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, was slain with the three priests.

As the time of their beheading approached, Fathers Johannes Prassek, Hermann Lange, and Eduard Müller were permitted to write letters. “What I am about to ask of you, above all on this earth, is this: do not be sad,” Blessed Prassek wrote to his family. “What is waiting for me is joy and good fortune, with which all the happiness and good fortune here on earth cannot compare. It because of this that you too should be happy. My death is not your loss; I could hardly have served you better in my role as a priest. What I could do for you, namely that I prayed for you daily, I shall be able to do all the better from now on.”

“I shall now be able to see what I talked about in sermons,” Blessed Lange wrote to his parents. “There will be no more secrets and tormenting riddles. Shall I be able to nestle at the feet of her who was my Mother and guide here on earth? And St. Thérèse, my special friend, will then take me by the hand! Today will be the great return to the Father’s house; why should I not be happy and full of wonder? And I shall see all those again, who were dear to me here on earth and were close to me!”

On June 26, Cardinal Amato traveled to Milan for the beatification of Father Serafino Morazzone, Sister Enrica Alfieri, and Father Clemente Vismara. Blessed Morazzone (1742-1822) was a parish priest who has been compared to St. John Mary Vianney; Blessed Alfieri (1891-1951) brought the light of the Gospel to prisoners. For 65 years, Blessed Vismara (1897-1988) served as a missionary in Burma, where he converted 100 villages to the Catholic faith. In 1983, the bishops of the nation referred to him as the “Patriarch of Burma.”

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