Saint of the Day – 13 November – Blessed Karl Lampert (1894-1944) Priest and Martyr – born on 9 January 1894 in Göfis, Feldkirch, Austria and died, aged 50, by being guillotined on 13 November 1944 in Halle an der Saale, Germany. Fr Karl served as the Pro-Vicar for the Diocese of Feldkirch in addition to being an outspoken critic of Nazism during World War II. This led to constant surveillance against him and his eventual arrests on several occasions. This all culminated in his final arrest in 1943 and his death from the guillotine in 1944 alongside a fellow Christian prisoner. He was declared to have been killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith) and was Beatified on 13 November 2011 in Austria. Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over his Beatification on the behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, who had approved the cause. Patronages – Prisoners and Persecuted Christians.
Fr Karl Lampert was born as the last of seven children of Franz Xaver Lampert and Maria Rosina Lampert in Feldkirch in 1894. He attended school in his hometown and would attend a state high school after the completion of his first studies, the death of his father seemed to jeopardise this but an uncle of his provided financial aid to assist him to further his education.
He commenced his studies for the priesthood in 1914 in Brixen and received his ordination from Bishop Franz Eggar on 12 May 1918 during World War I. He celebrated his first Mass on 26 May 1918. Following his ordination he worked as a chaplain in Dornbirn and was involved in pastoral work with adolescents.
In 1930 he moved – with the financial support of Bishop Sigismund Waitz – to Rome for studies in canon law and moved to new quarters at the Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria dell’Anima until 1935 as a secretary to the Roman Rota. Pope Pius XI later made him a Monsignor in 1935.
On 1 October 1935 he was stationed in the Diocese of Innsbruck where Bishop Waitz wanted him to perform several administration duties. Around this time he was considered to be the Diocese’s new Bishop but Pius XI did not choose him, instead he was made Pro-Vicar of that Diocese on 15 January 1939. In 1940 he attempted in vain to secure the release of Blessed Otto Neururer and when he was killed Lampert published an obituary in a church newsletter for him. However he was arrested for this due to violating what was Nazi confidentiality laws and was deported to Dachau on 25 August 1940. (Blessed Otto Neururer was arrested for opposing “a Germanic wedding” when he told a young lady she could not marry a divorced man. He would eventually become the 1st priest martyred inside a Nazi concentration camp, (Buchenwald), in 1940 – he was Beatified by St John Paul II in 1996 – see image below.)
He was then sent to Sachsenhausen in Berlin on 1 September 1940 where he was forced to do labour in a penal colony. A popular saying of his – while there – was “in the name of Christ for the Church.” He was sent back to Dachau on 15 December 1940 and remained there for eight months, before being released on 1 August 1941 and sent to Stettin. Despite being freed he was put under intense surveillance and was regarded with much suspicion, his phone calls were tapped and all correspondence was read. He continued to work as a pastor but also worked as a hospital chaplain.
Fr Karl was arrested for the last time on 4 February 1943 and endured intense interrogations and was also tortured. He was found to be guilty of both treason and sedition on 30 December 1943 and was sent to Torgau on 14 January 1944 where he spent seven months in solitary confinement. A third trial ordered the death sentence on 8 September 1944. Lampert – alongside a fellow priest – was executed in a guillotine on 13 November 1944 at 4:00pm.
His remains were cremated and buried in Halle an der Saale and were returned to his hometown in 1948. In the Domskirche – the Cathedral of Innsbruck, there are side Altars devoted to both Blessed Otto and Blessed Karl, below is Blessed Otto’s Altar and Plague.
The Beatification process commenced on 5 September 1997 under Pope John Paul II and granted Lampert the title Servant of God. The Diocesan process spanned from 1 October 1998 to 18 November 2003 and had to ascertain the facts about whether or not Lampert died in hatred of his Christian faith. The process was validated on 14 March 2008 and allowed for the drafting of the Positio – documenting his life and reasons for how he died in hatred of the faith – which was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2009.
On 27 June 2011 his Beatification was approved as Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the fact that Lampert had indeed been killed in the camps for his faith. Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the Beatification in Austria on the behalf of the pope on 13 November 2011. The current postulator assigned to the cause is Dr Andrea Ambrosi.