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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13 -- Feast of Blessed Jakob Gapp

You're probably aware that Adolf Hitler was found unfit for service in the Austrian army during World War One, so he enlisted in the Bavarian Reserve Infantry instead.  An eighteen year old Austrian named Jakob Gapp, however, was fit for service.  He was sent to the Italian front, where he was wounded and received the silver medal of Courage, Second Class.  He returned to the fight, was captured, and spent the remainder of the war as a POW. 

In 1921, he entered a Marianist seminary and spent the remainder of the decade studying in Austria, France, and Switzerland.  Ordained in 1930, he returned to Austria to serve as a director of religious education and chaplain of schools until 1938. 

You are probably familiar with the Anschluss, even if you don't call it that.  In March 1938, Austria fascists engineered a takeover and voted to join Nazi Germany.  Austria became a very hot place for Catholic youth educators, especially those who were inclined to give the poor coal from their own heating allowances.  Like other priests who were around for the rise of the Reich, he spoke out against racism and intolerance.  Unlike some of them, his bosses told him to beat feet before the Gestapo busted him. 

He went to Bordeaux, France, and then bounced on to Spain.  That was smart, since the Nazis eventually invaded France and Bordeaux wound up in the occupied zone.  He worked with the Marianists in San Sebastian, Cadiz, and Valencia, but the Gestapo was hounding him all the while.  Word came to him that two escaped Jews were hiding in southern France, seeking refuge and Catholic education.  He crossed the border to guide them, only to discover they were undercover SS.  He was busted in November 1942; his death sentence was handed down in Berlin in July 1943. 

On August 13, at 7:08 PM (the Germans kept such meticulous records!), Blessed Jakob was guillotined.  Not wanting his relics to be venerated, the SS sent his body to the Anatomical-Biological Institute of the University of Berlin for use in the anatomy lab. 

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