Religious Brother and Martyr (1904-1945)
+ Joseph was born to a poor farm family in Jerka, Poland, and his education was limited to elementary school.
+ After serving in the army, he entered the Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1927.
+ Assigned to serve on the staff of the archbishop of Poznan, he also acted as sacristan for the church of St. Elizabeth in what is now Lviv, Ukraine.
+ Arrested by the Gestapo, he was deported and imprisoned in the concentration camps at Mauthausen, Gusen, and, finally, Dachau.
+ Brother Joseph, “Prisoner P22099,” contracted typhus after volunteering to care for other prisoners stricken with the disease. He died on February 19, 1945, at Dachau, and is honored as a martyr. He was beatified with other Polish Martyrs of World War II in 1999.
On February 19, the Church remembers the Irish martyr Saint Odran. According to tradition, Odran was Saint Patrick’s chariot driver. One day, as the two were traveling together, Odran spotted what appeared to be an ambush. He took Patrick’s place (without telling him why) and killed in place of the bishop.
“In this world that God loves so much, the Brother cannot hide. On the contrary, he experiences the impulse to go out to encounter and embrace God. In contemplating the saving work of God, the Brother discovers himself to be an instrument which God wants to use to make the covenant, God’s love and concern for the weakest, more visible.”—from Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church, 13.
O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Joseph with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For One Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.