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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3 -- Feast of Blessed Szilárd István Bogdánffy

Romanian Martyr of Communist Oppression

Although the name Bogdanffy carries considerable weight in the northern and eastern ends of the Balkan peninsula (or should, anyway, since it Armenopolis was built by this Armenian clan), I'll just refer to today's beatus as Blessed Istavan.

Blessed Istavan's family had been aristocrats in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but shifting borders changed their fortunes, or at least his fortune.  He finished elementary school in the Serb part of the Empire but moved they moved to the Romanian region while he continued his studies. After he had taken his Ph.D. in philosophy and dogmatics and been ordained, he became a professor in a Catholic seminary. He fell under scrutiny for hiding Jews during World War II -- the Hungarian Arrow-Cross Fascist Party murdered about 15,000 and deported another 80,000 to the camps -- but was not arrested.

If the Arrow Cross didn't get you...
One might think he would have made it into the clear by surviving the war, but of course the Iron Curtain fell west of Romania.  Those poor folks in fact suffered under one of the worst governments in the whole Eastern Bloc.  Religion, being the opiate of the masses, was an early target, and Roman Catholicism, being Western, was more viciously suppressed than Orthodoxy, which was at least Eastern. 

the Hammer and Sickle would.
Blessed Istavan had not been a bishop for two months before he was arrested for treason.  The charge was based on his affiliation with the Vatican.  He could have beaten it easily by agreeing to lead an independent Latin Rite Church, one that would be subordinate to the Romanian Communist government rather than to Rome.  He declined and was sentenced to twelve hard.  He's the first beatified Catholic martyr of the Romanian Communist government, but far from alone in the list of those who suffered for the faith under that wretched regime. 

He started out in a lead mine and ministered to fellow prisoners when he could.  That got him a beating.  And a transfer.  I wrote a little poem about it:  Minister, beat, transfer, repeat. He died in solitary confinement on October 3, 1953, labelled "unworthy" of medical treatment for his pneumonia. 

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