Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 22 March – Blessed Clemens August Count von Galen (1878-1946)

Saint of the Day – 22 March – Blessed Clemens August Count von Galen (1878-1946) aged 68 known as “The Lion of Munster”, “The Bishop Who Roared Against The Nazis”, “The Bishop Who Took On the Führer”.   Blessed Clemens had a great love for the Blessed Virgin, often leading pilgrimages, or going on his own, to Marian Shrines.   He was too, a great lover of the Holy Eucharist and a fervent apostle of charity.   Patronage – Munster.BL CLEMENS HEADER maxresdefault

Clemens August von Galen was born on 16 March 1878 in Dinklage Castle, Oldenburg, Germany, the 11th of 13 children born to Count Ferdinand Heribert and Elisabeth von Spee.

Clemens_August_von_Galen_and_siblings_(1884)
Clemens August (third from left) at age six.

His father belonged to the noble family of Westphalia, who since 1660 governed the village of Dinklage.   For over two centuries his ancestors carried out the inherited office of camerlengo of the Diocese of Münster.

Clemens August grew up in Dinklage Castle and in other family seats.   Due to the struggle between Church and State, he and his brothers were sent to a school run by the Jesuits in Feldkirch, Austria.

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The family home in Dinklage

He remained there until 1894, when he transferred to the Antonianum in Vechta.   After graduation, he studied philosophy and theology in Frebur, Innsbruck and Münster and was ordained a priest on 28 May 1904 for the Diocese of Münster by Bishop Hermann Dingelstadt.

Parish priest, concern for poor:
His first two years as a priest were spent as vicar of the diocesan cathedral where he became chaplain to his uncle, Bishop Maximilian Gerion von Galen.

From 1906 to 1929, Fr von Galen carried out much of his pastoral activity outside Münster – in 1906 he was made chaplain of the parish of St Matthias in Berlin-Schönberg; from 1911 to 1919 he was curate of a new parish in Berlin before becoming parish priest of the Basilica of St Matthias in Berlin-Schönberg, where he served for 10 year, here, he was particularly remembered for his special concern for the poor and outcasts.   In 1929, Fr von Galen was called back to Münster when Bishop Johannes Poggenpohl asked him to serve as parish priest of the Church of St Lambert.

“Nec laudibus, nec timore’:
In January 1933, Bishop Poggenpohl died, leaving the See vacant.   After two candidates refused, on 5 September 1933, Fr Clemens was appointed Bishop of Münster by Pope Pius XI.   On 28 October 1933 he was consecrated by Cardinal Joseph Schulte, Archbishop of Cologne.   Bishop von Galen was the first diocesan Bishop to be consecrated under Hitler’s regime.

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Coat of Arms of Cardinal von Galen.

As his motto, he chose the formula of the rite of episcopal consecration:  “Nec laudibus, nec timore” (Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God).

Throughout the 20 years that Bishop von Galen was curate and parish priest in Berlin, he wrote on various political and social issues – in a pastoral letter dated 26 March 1934, he wrote very clearly and critically on the “neopaganism of the national socialist ideology“.   Due to his outspoken criticism, he was called to Rome by Pope Pius XI in 1937 together with the Bishop of Berlin, to confer with them on the situation in Germany and speak of the eventual publication of an Encyclical.

On 14 March 1937 the Encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge” (To the Bishops of Germany – The place of the Catholic Church in the German Reich) was published.   It was widely circulated by Bishop von Galen, notwithstanding Nazi opposition.

“Lion of Munster’:
In the summer of 1941, in answer to unwarranted attacks by the National Socialists, Bishop von Galen delivered three admonitory sermons between July and August.   He spoke in his old parish Church of St Lambert and in Liebfrauen-Ueberlassen Church, since the diocesan cathedral had been bombed.   In his famous speeches, Bishop von Galen spoke out against the State confiscation of Church property and the programmatic euthanasia carried out by the regime.bl clemens profile

The clarity and incisiveness of his words and the unshakable fidelity of Catholics in the Diocese of Münster embarrassed the Nazi regime and on 10 October 1943 the Bishop’s residence was bombed.   Bishop von Galen was forced to take refuge in nearby Borromeo College.

From 12 September 1944 on, he could no longer remain in the city of Münster, destroyed by the war, he left for the zone of Sendenhorst.

In 1945, Vatican Radio announced that Pope Pius XII was to hold a Consistory and that the Bishop of Münster was also to be present.

Creation of a Cardinal:
After a long and difficult journey, due to the war and other impediments, Bishop von Galen finally arrived in the “Eternal City”.   On 21 February 1946 the Public Consistory was held in St Peter’s Basilica and Bishop von Galen was created a Cardinal.bl clemens official cardinal pic

On 16 March 1946 the 68-year-old Cardinal returned to Münster.  He was cordially welcomed back by the city Authorities and awarded honourary citizenship by the burgomaster.

On the site of what remained of the cathedral, Cardinal von Galen gave his first (and what would be his last) discourse to the more than 50,000 people who had gathered, thanking them for their fidelity to the then-Bishop of Münster during the National Socialist regime.   He explained that as a Bishop, it was his duty to speak clearly and plainly about what was happening.nl clemens.jpg

No one knew that the Cardinal was gravely ill and when he returned to Münster on 19 March 1946 he had to undergo an operation.

Cardinal von Galen died just three days later, on 22 March.   He was buried on 28 March in the Ludgerus Chapel, which has become a place of pilgrimage to this defender of the faith in the face of political oppression….Vatican.va20051009_von-galen

Blessed Clemens was Beatified on 9 October 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter’s, Vatican City. His tomb is venerated in Munster Cathedral.Minolta DSC

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. "For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

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