Capuchin Franciscan Martyr (1906-1942)
+ Jerome Chojnacki was born in Lodz, Poland.
+ After studying in public schools and a military academy, he became a member of Catholic Action and showed a special concern for those suffering from alcoholism and tried to help those battling the disease.
+ Jerome entered the Capuchin Franciscans in 1933, taking the religion name “Fidelis.”
+ Brother Fidelis studied philosophy and theology in the hopes of being ordained a priest, all the while continuing his special mission to alcoholics. His studies were interrupted, however, with the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939.
+ Arrested with other priests and religious the following year, he was imprisoned in Lublin, before being transferred to the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.
+ Although he had been an open and optimistic person, the camp broke his spirit and the abuse that he and other prisoners suffered led him to suffer from severe depression.
+ On December 14, 1940, he and other priests and religious were transferred to Dachau. Abused, starved, and over-worked, he developed a heart condition which would ultimately claim his life on July 9, 1942. His final words to the other prisoners were, “Praised be Jesus Christ; we’ll see each other in heaven.”
+ Blessed Fidelis Chojnacki was beatified with other Polish martyrs of World War II in 1999.
A close friend and inspiration for Blessed Fidelis was the Capuchin priest Blessed Anicet Koplinski. Another victim of the Nazi persecutions, he died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on October 16, 1941.
“This holy man fought to the death for the law of his God and did not fear the words of the godless, for he was built on solid rock.” — Entrance Antiphon for the Mass of One Martyr
Almighty and merciful God, who brought your Martyr blessed Fidelis to overcome the torments of his passion, grant that we, who celebrate the day of his triumph, may remain invincible under your protection against the snares of the enemy. 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.