VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Among the seven candidates that John Paul II will beatify this Sunday is a German trade unionist and journalist executed by the Nazis in 1945.
Nikolaus Gross, born in Niederwenigern in 1889, was enrolled as a young worker in a Christian labor union, and founded the first youth groups of the Miners´ Christian Movement.
He enrolled in the Catholic Workers´ Movement in 1918, where he was noted for his dedication and perseverance in seeing the organization´s social claims implemented.
Gross continued his studies until 1921, and then took a job at Essen´s Der Knappen, a workers newspaper.
On May 24, 1923, Gross married Elizabeth Koch, with whom he had seven children. Some of them are still alive and will attend their father´s beatification.
In 1927 Gross was appointed editor of the workers newspaper until it was closed down by the Nazis in 1938.
Nikolaus Gross then became an active opponent of Nazism, precisely because of his Catholic faith. He acted on the principle that “God must be obeyed before men.”
“If we are asked to do something contrary to God or the faith, not only is it not our moral duty but it is also our absolute [obligation] to refuse to obey,” he wrote in 1943.
Gross expressed his thoughts in two articles, which eventually fell into the hands of the Gestapo. He was arrested on Aug. 12, 1944, in Cologne, and condemned to death on Jan. 15, 1945. He was taken to Plottensee prison in Berlin where he received a visit from his wife three days later. He was hanged on Jan. 23 as a traitor.
In statements on Vatican Radio, attorney Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause of beatification, explained Gross´ willingness to undergo martyrdom, quoting one of his last writings: “Only when we have given proof of faithfulness to God can we possess God forever and for all eternity.”