Alphonsus Mary of the Holy Spirit was born in Poland in 1891. He became a Discalced Carmelite in 1908, and served as priest, professor of youth, prior and bursar. On August 28, in 1944, he was shot to death by Nazi troops that had invaded Poland. He was beatified on July 13, 1999, by Pope Saint John Paul II.
From the address by Pope Saint John Paul II:
"Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven; for this is how they persecuted the prophets before you."
To whom do these words still apply? To many, many people throughout humanity's history, to whom it was given to suffer persecution for the sake of justice. We know that the first three centuries after Christ were marked by persecutions, at times terrible, particularly under some Roman emperors from Nero to Diocletian. Even though these ceased under the Edict of Milan, nevertheless they broke out again in various historical eras, in numerous places throughout the world.
Even our century has written a great martyrology. I myself, over the twenty years of my pontificate, have elevated to the glory of the altar numerous groups of martyrs: Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican. How many there were during the period of the Second World War and under the Communist totalitarian system! They suffered and gave their lives in the Hitlerian and Soviet extermination camps. This time has now come to remember all these victims and to render due homage to them.
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