Marianist Priest and Martyr: 1897-1943
+ Jakob was born in Wattens, Austria, and served as a soldier on the Italian front during World War I.
+ After the War, Jakob entered the novitiate of the Society of Mary (the Marianists). He professed vows in 1925 and was ordained priest in 1930.
+ Following ordination, he served his community as a teacher and chaplain in Marianist schools. Because of dire economic conditions, Father Jakob collected food and other necessities for the students and gave away his own coal to the poor.
+ As the Nazi party rose in power, Father Jakob spoke out about how it was incompatible with Christianity. His superiors sent him home, believing that his anti-Nazi message and profile would endanger the students and institutions. However, Father Jakob had already become a target.
+ Taking an assignment as assistant priest in the town of Breitenwang-Reutte, Father Jakob courageously defended the Church against Nazi propaganda and reminded the people, “God is your God, not Adolf Hitler.” In response, the Nazis ordered him to stop teaching religion and he was advised to leave the country.
+ After spending time in France and Spain, Father Jakob was arrested by the Gestapo who tricked him into returning to France with the lie that two people wanted to be received into the Church by Father Jakob.
+ Imprisoned for months after his arrest, he was executed in Berlin on August 13, 1943. The Nazis refused to allow his body to be buried and his remains were handed over to the Anatomical-Biological Institute of the University of Berlin. Blessed Jakob Gapp was beatified in 1996.
The Society of Mary (the Marianists), the religious community of which Blessed Jakob Gapp was a member, was founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in 1817. A community of brothers and priests, the Marianists are committed to the education of youth and care for the poor.
“Action is more important than theory.”—Blessed Jakob Gapp
Almighty and merciful God, who brought your Martyr blessed Jakob 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.