Beatification Process Starts for "Italian Father Kolbe"

Franciscan Saved Jews and Died at Hands of Nazis

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TRIESTE, Italy, JAN. 30, 2002 ( Beatification is possible for a Franciscan friar tortured to death by the Nazis for saving Jews.

On Monday, Bishop Eugenio Ravignani of Trieste officially requested that the informative process begin on the life, martyrdom, virtues and reputation for holiness of Minor Conventual Franciscan Nicola Placido Cortese.

After taking his vows as a Franciscan, and assuming the religious name Placido, he dedicated himself during World War II to helping refugees, prisoners and political fugitives, including Jews and Slovenes.

Because of his activity, the Nazi police considered him an ideological and practical militant of the Resistance in the Veneto region.

The Franciscan´s superiors named him director of St. Anthony Messenger magazine, a platform he used to fight in defense of the weakest.

He was arrested by the Gestapo on Oct. 8, 1944. During the ensuing interrogations, he never revealed his collaborators´ names. A month after his arrest, Placido Cortese died from the torture he had undergone.

Many have described him as the «Italian Father Kolbe» because of his love for his neighbor, to the point of sacrificing his life.

Maximilian Kolbe died at Auschwitz in 1941 after offering his life for a fellow prisoner. The Polish Franciscan Conventual was canonized in 1982.

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