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Meet Bl. Vilmos Apor, a bishop who died defending women

Vilmos Apor

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Philip Kosloski - published on 08/30/21

Bishop Apor was shot by Soviet police while defending women who were in hiding in fear of being raped.

During World War II, Bishop Vilmos Apor was a strong advocate for all the oppressed, especially Jews who were being taken away by Nazi soldiers.

He would often use his own episcopal residence to shelter those who were being persecuted, while he would use a small room for himself.

After the Nazis were driven out, the Soviet government stepped in and enacted their own atheistic regime.

Again, Apor would advocate for anyone who was being oppressed and this made him a primary enemy of the Soviets.

It all culminated on March 28, 1945, which was Good Friday that year.

Several drunken Soviet soldiers invaded his residence and were looking for women they heard were hiding there. The women were hiding in Apor’s residence in fear of being raped by the soldiers.

Apor wouldn’t give-up their location, and when a girl started to run away from her hiding place, a Soviet soldier started running after her.

Bishop Apor stepped in his way and one of the soldiers shot him. He remained alive for a few days longer, but ultimately died on April 2, 1945.

St. John Paul II praised Apor’s example at his beatification ceremony in 1997.

The intimate sharing in the mystery of Christ, the new and perfect Temple in whom full communion between God and man is realized (cf. Jn 2:21), shines forth in the pastoral service of Bl. Vilmos Apor, whose life was crowned with martyrdom. He was the “parish priest of the poor,” a ministry which he continued as a Bishop during the dark years of the Second World War, working as a generous benefactor of the needy and the defender of the persecuted. He was not afraid to raise his voice to censure, on the basis of Gospel principles, the injustices and abuses of power towards minorities, especially towards the Jewish community.

In the image of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:11), the new blessed lived his fidelity to the paschal mystery, ultimately making the supreme sacrifice of his own life. His murder occurred precisely on Good Friday: he was shot to death while defending his flock. 

Bl. Apor’s example remains an inspiration to many in Hungary and abroad, an example of a true shepherd, willing to lay down his life for his sheep.

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