Feast Day: August 9
Beatified: October 26, 2007
Venerated: June 1, 2007
At the Mass of his beatification in 2007 in his native Austria, Franz Jägerstätter was remembered as a normal, everyday person with faults. Sometimes he took his faith lightly. He chased after girls, rode a motorcycle, and fathered a child outside of marriage.
He was a farmer who worked hard. He married in 1936, took care of his wife and children, and was known as a man of good works in his community. And as Nazism rose in popularity, Franz became more troubled by his conscience and what he saw happening around him. Catholic Churches were forced to fly the swastika flag and subjected to other abusive laws.
When he was drafted into the German army 1940 at the age of 33, he began to examine his faith more closely, and came to believe that his faith was actually opposed to service in the army. He believed that it would be a sin to be a Nazi.
This was an unpopular opinion that even his bishop was afraid to support. In 1943, he refused to serve, and a military court rejected his argument that he could not be a Catholic and a Nazi. He offered to serve as a medic, but was instead sentenced to death.
Even the prison chaplain was amazed by Franz’s calm acceptance of his fate. He was executed on August 9, 1943. Before his death he wrote: “If I must write… with my hands in chains, I find that much better than if my will were in chains. Neither prison nor chains nor sentence of death can rob a man of the Faith and his free will. God gives so much strength that it is possible to bear any suffering…. People worry about the obligations of conscience as they concern my wife and children. But I cannot believe that, just because one has a wife and children, a man is free to offend God.”
Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Christ Reveals God’s Mystery, Chapter 1