Beatification Honors Post World War II Martyrs

Lojze Grozde Was Devoted to the Eucharist

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By Carmen Elena Villa

CELJE, Slovenia, JUNE 17, 2010 ( Lojze Grozde, a 19-year-old who was martyred by the Communist authorities, was beatified Sunday, honoring all who were also killed for their faith in the years after World War II.

Father Igor Luzar, the postulator of Grozde’s cause for canonization, made this observation in a conversation with ZENIT after the beatification in Celje.

«In him we also see a great number of other Christians martyred and killed during and after World War II because of their faith in Christ,» said the priest, «particularly boys and young men, among whom many have given witness of faith and forgiveness at the hour of their death.»

The beatification represents «a strong spiritual stimulus» for the people of Slovenia, Father Luzar affirmed.  

Grozde was acknowledged as a martyr in a March 27, 2010 decree, and his beatification was scheduled to take place during a Slovenian Eucharistic congress in Celje.
The ceremony
The stadium of Arena, where the beatification ceremony was held on Sunday, was filled with 32,000 faithful.

The Mass was presided over by Benedict XVI’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of the Pope. It was concelebrated by 18 prelates and 750 priests.
In his homily, Cardinal Bertone said that this newly beatified illuminates «the history of the Church in Slovenia, in particular the violent persecutions it suffered in the last century.»

He affirmed that through this testimony, the faith in this country can find «inspiration and strength to be able to witness to the faith effectively in today’s de-Christianized world.»
The cardinal pointed out how Blessed Lojze «in his early youth began seriously in the school of Jesus, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament and, kneeling in an intense and faithful practice of Eucharistic adoration, learned what it means to live total self-giving.»
The story

Lojze Grozde was born in 1923 in Slovenia, but was rejected by his mother because he was conceived out of wedlock. He was cared for by relatives in a rural environment and where he was engaged in heavy work.
Grozde was a good student, passionate about reading and a lover of poetry. During his years of secondary school, he took part in some meetings of Catholic Action. He once wrote that whoever belongs to this association «must always be ready for sacrifices, even martyrdom and death.»
Grozde had a great devotion to the Eucharist, which he called the «Sun of my life.» He also had a strong sentiment of nationality towards Slovenia, which at the time belonged to Yugoslavia.
«He wanted to do everything for the kingdom of God, lead other young people to God, sacrifice himself for the salvation of souls,» said his postulator.

«He was convinced that the Virgin Most Holy, to whom he was very devoted, had led him to Catholic Action to enlarge the horizon of his spiritual life and of his field of action,» added Father Luzar.
During World War II, Slovenia was occupied by Italy and Germany. Civil war also broke out in Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of 1943, Grozde left school to go to his family home for the holidays. On his journey, he was seized by the Communists, who accused him of being a secret spy against the regime. The youth, who had on his person a missal, «The Imitation of Christ,» and another book on Our Lady of Fatima, was tortured to death the night of his arrest. His body was found on February 23, 1943.
Father Luzar said that after the end of World War II, because of the Communist regime, it was prohibited to speak aloud in public about Grozde’s death, but despite this, his fame for martyrdom and reputation for holiness grew.
This young martyr thus becomes the second beatified Slovenian, after Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek, beatified in 1999. Grozde is the first beatified martyr since the independence of this young nation in 1991.

The postulator continued:»He is one of the greatest Slovenians. Grozde shines as such also today.»

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