Husband, Father, and Martyr (1898-1945)
+ Nikolaus was born near Essen, Germany. A tradesman who worked a plate rolling mill and later as a grinder and face-worker in a coal mine, he became involved in the Christian Miners’ Union. He soon became the representative of the young miners of the Catholic association of miners.
+ His work with the unions took him throughout Germany and he eventually settled in the Ruhr Valley. There, he married his wife, Elizabeth, and the couple had seven children. He was a devoted father who tried to raise his children to be good Catholics and faithful citizens.
+ Nikolaus became aware of the political movements within German, including the rise of Adolf Hitler. As the Nazis came to power, Nikolaus served as the editor of a German workers’ newspaper and was able to give voice to his Catholic faith as he tried to address to complicated political realities of his day. In 1930 he wrote, “As Catholic workers, we reject Nazism not only for political and economic reasons, but decisively also, resolutely and clearly, on account of our religious and cultural attitude.
+ Because of his strong stance, he was marked as an “enemy of the state” and became a target of the Nazis.
+ After years of political activism, Nikolaus was arrested on August 12, 1944. His letters from prison testify to his spirit of prayer and dedication to his family.
+ Blessed Nikolaus Gross was executed on January 23, 1945. The priest who was with him at the time of his death testified, “Gross bowed his head silently during the blessing. His face already seemed illuminated by the glory into which he was getting ready to enter.” He was beatified in 2001.
For prayer and reflection
“If we do not risk our life today, how then do we want to justify ourselves one day before God and our people.”—Blessed Nikolaus Gross
On this day we also remember Saint Blaithmac of Iona. An Irish prince, he gave up his title and become a monk—and later abbot—of a monastery in Ireland. In 824 he transferred to the famed monastery of Iona and was martyred on the altar steps in the monastery’s chapel by Viking marauders around 825.
O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Nikolaus 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, 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.