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This Italian priest was killed for helping Jews in WWII

Placido Cortese

messaggero di S.Antonio | CC BY-SA 3.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/04/21

Fr. Placido Cortese is now recognized as "venerable" in the Catholic Church for his courageous activities in World War II.

While the Second World War led to many horrible atrocities, many heroic individuals did what they could to rescue Jews and other persecuted groups, getting them out of danger.

Fr. Placido Cortese, an Italian Franciscan priest, was one of those courageous individuals.

According to the official website for his canonization, Cortese started-out ministering to Slovenian and Croatian prisoners in Italy.

During the years of the Second World War, he worked hard to assist Slovenian and Croatian civilians interned in the concentration camp of Chiesanuova, on the outskirts of Padua, and in other parts of Italy (1942-1943)…[he] helped the inmates with food, clothing and medicines, but in particular his caring presence as a priest and of Franciscan.

After the Nazis invaded Italy, his mission then turned to rescuing the Jews.

Counterfeit documents, clothing and money are needed, necessary for the persecuted to reach the longed-for safety in Swiss territory. Father Placido does not hesitate to use the photographs left next to the tomb of Saint Anthony by the pilgrims, as an ex voto: the documents are “packaged,” the clothing is distributed and the money, which has also reached Father Placido from the Vatican, changes hands, thus allowing a few hundred people to reach Switzerland.

However, it didn’t take long for the Nazis to take notice and, according to Vatican News, “he was lured out of the Basilica of St Anthony – which was an extra-territorial area and thus outside the jurisdiction of the occupying forces. He was taken to the SS barracks in Trieste, where he died following the harsh torture he suffered.”

His cause for canonization began in 2001, and was given the title “venerable” by Pope Francis on August 30, 2021.

SaintsWorld War II
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