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Bl. Hilary Januszewski, Priest and Martyr


hilaryjanuszewski 35012 June Optional Memorial

Hilary Januszewski was born on 11 June 1907 in Krajenki (Poland) and was given the name of Pawel. He received a Christian education from his parents, Martin and Marianne. He attended the college in Greblin (where his family lived from 1915), and then continued his studies at the Institute of Suchary, but had to abandon these due to economic difficulties of the family. Meanwhile his family went to Cracow where he took up other studies and in 1927 entered the Order of Carmel. He completed his noviciate in Leopoli and on 30 December 1928 made his simple profession. At the end of his philosophical studies in Cracow he was sent to Collegio Internazionale Sant'Alberto, Rome. He was ordained priest on 15 July 1934. He obtained his lectorate in theology and the prize for the best students of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas and in 1935 returned to Poland to the monastery in Cracow.

On his return to Poland he was appointed professor of Dogmatic Theology and Church History at the institute of the Polish Province in Cracow. On 1 November 1939, Fr. Eliseus Sánchez-Paredes, Provincial, appointed him prior of the community. At that time, Poland had already been occupied by the Germans a few weeks earlier. One year later, the invaders decreed the arrest of many religious and priests. On 18 September 1940 the gestapo deported four friars from the Carmel in Cracow. In December, when other friars were arrested, Fr. Hilary decided to present himself in exchange for an older and sick friar. From that day his Calvary began. He was sent to the prison of Montelupi (Cracow), then to the concentration camp of Sachsenchausen and in April 1941 to the concentration camp of Dachau. There he was a model of prayer life, encouraging others and giving hope for a better tomorrow. Together with the other Carmelites, among whom was Blessed Titus Brandsma, they often joined in prayer.

Meanwhile in barrack 25 of the concentration camp, typhus was spreading. To help the sick, 32 priests presented themselves to the authorities. A couple of days later, Fr. Hilary Januszewski spontaneously joined the group. His apostolate lasted 21 days because, infected by typhus, he died on 25 March 1945, a few days before the liberation of the concentration camp. His body was cremated in the crematorium of Dachau.

Fr. Hilary Januszewski was beatified by John Paul II on 13 June 1999, during his apostolic visit to Warsaw (Poland). On this occasion the Pope beatified 108 Polish martyrs of the Second World War, victims of Nazi persecution.