+ Clemens was born into a noble family at Dinklage Castle in the Lower Saxony region of Germany.
+ Ordained a priest in 1904, he was named bishop of Münster in 1933.
+ A fierce anti-Communist, he was an outspoken critic of Stalin and his policies. As the Nazis rose to power, Bishop von Galen became known for his opposition of Hitler. He became a central figure in the struggle to end the Nazi’s program of euthanasia, which focused on the physically and mentally disabled, the ill, and the elderly.
+ As part of his opposition of the Nazis, he helped draft Pope Pius XI’s anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brenneder Sorge. He is especially remembered for three fiery sermons preached in 1941, publicly denouncing the Nazis. His reputation is not without controversy, however, because of his relative silence about the deportation and execution of Jews.
+ Named a cardinal on February 18, 1946, he died on March 22 of that same year. Blessed Clemens August von Galen, the “Lion of Münster,” was beatified in 2005.
On this day the Church also remembers two holy women—Saints Basilissa and Callinica of Galatia—who died in the year 250. Both were wealthy women who took on the special mission to visit and care for imprisoned Christians. In time, their charity attracted the attention of the authorities and the two women were subsequently arrested and martyred for their faith in Christ.
“The right to life, to inviolability, to freedom is an indispensable part of any moral order of society.”—Blessed Clemens August von Galen
O God, who wonderfully numbered among your holy shepherds blessed Clemens, a man aflame with divine charity and outstanding for that faith that overcomes the world, grant, we pray, that through his intercession we, too, persevering in faith and charity, may merit to be sharers of his glory. 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 Pastors—For a Bishop)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here