This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 12 -- Feast of Blessed Karl Leisner

Blessed Father Karl Leisner
Just as I begin to think about ending this project, I read about someone really fascinating and my interest is rekindled.  In this case, the fascinating person is not Blessed Karl Leisner, who is as decent and uncomplicated as befits a beatus, but his boss, Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen.  [Okay, I realize the implication of that sentence.  I'm not backing away from it. Yet.]  Since CAGvG is also a beatus, I won't say much about him now -- look for him next March 22. 

Karl Leisner began theological studies in 1934, which is pretty poor timing for a Catholic in Germany.  Moreover, he became youth director for Munster just as the Nazi regime nationalized all youth programs.  In other words, he ran an outlaw church youth fellowship.  These Desperadoes for Christ, as they weren't called, used to go camping in the Netherlands and Belgium just so they could rap about Jesus around the campfire.  Thus do fascists make subversives of even the most well intentioned citizens. 

Blessed Karl Leisner
As the Reich matured, Blessed Karl was sent to an agricultural camp for six months of farm work.  There, he organized Mass every Sunday for his fellow workers.  [He wasn't a priest, but he must have arranged for a priest to come, for the space, etc.]  This caught the attention of the Gestapo, whose files include papers seized from Karl's home.  Nonetheless, these activities had not yet earned him a spot in the camps.  Yet. 

In March 1939, Bishop von Galen appointed Karl deacon.  The blessed Bishop was himself only in the job because others had declined it; like Blessed Karl, he used his spot to criticize der Fuhrer and his policies.  The Gestapo debated whether to arrest the Bishop (in the end, they didn't), but they didn't waste their breath about a mere deacon.  He was picked up in November 1939, a mere eight months into his job, and sent to Freiburg (that's ironic, huh?).  From there, he was transferred to Mannheim, then Sachenhausen, and finally to Dachau. 

The first two seem to be detention centers or prisons rather than concentration camps.  Sachenhausen was a large labor camp, holding a minimum of 200,000 prisoners.  Approximately 100,000 deaths are estimated to have occurred there.  Dachau, also a labor camp, through which about 250,000 passed and in which 31,000 died. 

No longer 22356, but not quite whole
At Dachau, Prisoner 22356 (as Blessed Karl was called) was secretly ordained by a French bishop named Gabriel Piquet.  Bishop Gabe was in for furnishing false identity papers, and the local internees suggested that he might ordain Karl while he was in the neighborhood.  A secret request for permission was carried out of the camp by a woman who worked there.  When the response came back affirmative, Bishop Gabe slipped into the TB ward (where Karl had been languishing for a couple of years) and ordained him. 

Father Karl Leisner only said one Mass, and it took him nine days to gather enough strength to say that.  Dachau was liberated on April 29, 1945, but Father Karl's tuberculosis had advanced beyond recovery.  He died on August 12, 1945. 

1 comment:

  1. How did you happen upon Blessed Karl Leisner?Have you ever read about Schoenstatt? Thank you for posting about him.

    The lives of Karl Leisner, the first Schoenstatt member beatified, and the six Schoenstatt members "on the way to beatification" - Sr. Emilie, João Pozzobon, Mario Hiriart, Gertraud von Bullion, Joseph Engling, Franz Reinisch - , and of many other "jewels of Schoenstatt" whose life have made a difference to Schoenstatt branches, countries, groups, tell the story of the Covenant of Love that is able to transform a person totally, however also tell the story of individual persons who with their mission, background, mentality strengths and weaknesses have marked the destiny of Schoenstatt.