Priest and Martyr (1915-1945)
+ Karl was born in Rees, Germany. As a seminarian he studied in Münster, but the rise of the Nazi party in Germany prevented the establishment of new Church programs, including Karl’s ministry to young people.
+ As he was completing six months of compulsory agricultural work, he defied Nazi policies and organized clandestine Sunday Masses for the other workers. At this time, his home was raided by the Gestapo and his diaries and personal papers were seized. These documents have been preserved and provide insights into the soul of the young religious leader.
+ Karl was ordained a deacon in 1939 by Blessed Clemens August von Galen. However, he was imprisoned a short time later for his criticism of Hitler and Nazi policies.
+ After being housed in a series of concentration camps, he was transferred to Dachau in 1941. It was there, that he was secretly ordained a priest by a French bishop who had been admitted to the camp with the help of local religious leaders.
+ By the time he was ordained, Karl was already critically ill with tuberculosis and he was only able to celebrate his first Mass—which would be the only Mass he would celebrate—a week after his ordination.
+ Although he was among those freed when Dachau was liberated in 1945, he did not survive much longer and died in Planneg, Germany, on August 12, 1945.
+ Blessed Karl Leisner was beatified in 1996.
“With God, I will have everything in me! Give me strength, Lord!”—Blessed Karl Leisner
O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Karl with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he (she) 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.