Franz Jagerstatter, martyr


Zwei Dinge bedinke, woher, wohin
Dan hat dein Leben den rechten Sinn.

Consider two things: from where, to where
Then your life will have its true meaning.

“From the very beginning of the war, he contended that it was being waged by “bad men”, playing a “crooked game”. Quite simply, he concluded, “I cannot play the game. The game is a lie.” 

On June 1, Pope Benedict XVI approved a series of decrees, issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, that attributed martyrdom to Jagerstatter, a husband and father of three who was beheaded on August 9, 1943, for refusing any collaboration with the Nazis.

Jagerstatter is an example of a Catholic whose conscience forbade him to participate in war (see “In Light of Eternity: Franz Jagerstatter, Martyr,” published by the Catholic Peace Fellowship n 2003).
This young man, despite a wild and rebellious youth, in his adulthood became a devout Catholic, a third-order Franciscan, and a church sexton for his local parish.

Jagerstatter read and prayed over the Scripture and the lives of the Saints, and his conscience was shaped and formed by his active participation in the sacramental life of the Church. He understood that he was a part of the Kingdom of God and that, as a Catholic, his allegiance was to his “Eternal Homeland” – not to “the Fatherland.”

Although advised by his parish priest and local bishop that his duty was to serve his country and preserve his own life for the sake of his family, Jagerstatter held firm to his belief that to cooperate with the Nazis was to cooperate with evil, and so refused to join the military. Franz Jagerstatter was a conscientious objector, one to whom we look to, and now can pray to, for guidance.

  • See a related post in my louie, louie blog, “Enemy of the State” – an essay by Thomas Merton about Franz Jagerstatter.
  • “Franziska and Franz Jägerstätter” is a wonderful essay by John Dear, recounting his meeting with Franziska Jägerstätter (Franz’s widow) in 1997. It is online here.
  • Advertisements

    One comment

    1. Sebastian Muccilli · · Reply

      A person to admire and emulate in being conscience-bound to not only speak the truth but to do it – in the face of even abandoning his family – to do so and suffer the consequences. My worry would have been the consequences the family would have to endure because of his courageous refusal to follow Nazi conscription. His wife must have been an incredible witness to him en-couraging him to follow his conscience conscience.

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: