Sunday, June 16, 2024

Priest and martyr of communism Father Michał Rapacz beatified in Krakow

Krakow Celebrates Beatification of ...

A 20th-century Polish Catholic priest killed by communist authorities was beatified on Saturday at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland.

Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Father Michał Rapacz in January. 

The 41-year-old priest was shot twice by communist authorities on the night of May 10-11, 1946, after being taken from his village parish in the south of Poland to a nearby woods.

“From the celebration of the Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, [Rapacz] drew inner strength and energy, capable of transforming life and the world, everyday life and history,” Cardinal Marcello Semeraro said in his homily at the beatification Mass on June 15.

Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, traveled from Rome to celebrate the beatification in Krakow. He pronounced the formula of beatification before a packed shrine of approximately 1,800 people, including Rapacz’s great-great niece and nephew, Karolina Basista and Michał Pietrzak.

The Mass also marked the end of a Eucharistic congress in the Archdiocese of Krakow. 

According to Semeraro, for the new blessed, “spreading love for Christ present in the consecrated bread was the only effective remedy against atheism, materialism, and all those worldviews that threaten human dignity.”

From the Eucharist, the cardinal added, Rapacz drew a love that “does not remain paralyzed in the face of hatred, violence, and everything that causes fear.”

Rapacz was recognized as a martyr, according to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, because of his refusal to leave his parish or to abandon his pastoral ministry, despite a ban on the celebration of Catholic liturgies and activities under the occupations of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

During one of his homilies, the priest, who was being harassed by communist authorities for his zealous service to parishioners, said: “Though I should fall dead, I will not stop preaching this Gospel and will not renounce my own cross.”

In his homily, Semeraro drew attention to the new blessed’s deep spirituality, including his habit of praying every evening before the tabernacle in his church with a cross and his parish directory.

“A list of parishioners became his prayer book, through which he commended to God one by one the individual families and individuals of his community,” the cardinal said.