Pontiff Praises a Bavarian Foe of Nazism

Father Rupert Mayer Was Interned in Concentration Camp

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- One of the first blessed that Benedict XVI has spoken about is a priest who risked his life to challenge Nazism.

Father Rupert Mayer (1876-1945), a Jesuit from Bavaria, was interned in a concentration camp.

The new Pope, himself a native of Bavaria, proposed the priest as an example of life to the 5,000 German pilgrims who attended his audience Monday in Paul VI Hall.

Born in Stuttgart, Rupert Mayer entered the Society of Jesus in 1890. He was chaplain of immigrants and spiritual adviser to soldiers during World War I.

Wounded in the war, and had to have his left leg amputated. He resumed his ministry, dedicating himself to the poor and to the direction of the Marian Congregation of Munich.

Father Mayer was one of the first to understand the nature of the Hitlerian movement and as early as 1923 said that a Catholic could not support National Socialism.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Father Mayer continued to express his ideas publicly. As a result, he was imprisoned in 1939 and then confined in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

As his health deteriorated, the Nazis, fearing that he would die in the camp and be considered a martyr, sent him to the Abbey of Ettal.

Father Mayer died of a stroke in Munich in 1945. Pope John Paul II beatified him in that city on May 3, 1987. His tomb is in Munich.

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