Rorate Caeli

60 years ago

On December 26, 1948, Cardinal Mindszenty, Archbishop of Ersztergom and Primate of Hungary, was arrested by the Communist government of that nation. It was the beginning of a slow via crucis which would last until his last days. Pope Pius XII, who had named him Archbishop and created him Cardinal right after the war, condemned the action a few days later through his Letter Acerrimo Moerore ("To the Bishops of Hungary", January 2, 1949 - in Italian). 

For a contemporary account of the Mindszenty affair: Time magazine archives.


  1. Anonymous5:03 AM

    One of the greatest Primates that ever lived.

    Nine years in an rat infested commie jail cell, without the solace of a Mass kit or breviary.

    Occasionaly a sympathetic gaurd would bring His Eminence wine and a crust of unleavened bread and he was able to offer Mass, from memory.

    I hope he is canonised soon.

  2. Cardinal József Mindszenty was not just Primate, he was Prince-Primate of Hungary, a traditional title of the Archbishops of Esztergom (hercegprímás). He was the last Prince-Primate, as his successors chose to drop the princely title. For short, he was a real Prince. "Principem fecit illum ut sit illi sacerdotii dignitas in aeternum".

    Mártír volt ő, aki csodálatos helytállással viselt el testi és lelki szenvedéseket Egyházához és népéhez, mindvégig kitartó hűségben.

    In memoria aeterna erit justus!

  3. Anonymous1:10 PM

    This was also the same day when, after his release from prison, he was deprived of his title as Primate by Pope Paul VI. As he wrote in his autobiography it was the beginning of 'my complete and total exile.'

  4. Anonymous2:26 PM

    Wasn't Cardinal Midzenty forced to accept an agreement brokered by Paul VI and one of his underlings- then Bishop Agostino Casaroli-with Moscow-which allowed for Cardinal Midzenty to be released, provided that he leave the country?
    I think he did, because he participated in the Synod of Bishops in Rome in 1971, and died only a short time afterward. I believe also in Rome. Although I could be wrong about where he died.

    I do know that a deal was brokered for Cardinal Slipji by John XXIII 10 years before this, with the same appeasment to Moscow.

  5. Anonymous2:37 PM

    It's amazing how 30 years after his death, the errors of Paul VI in so very many areas of Catholic life are really coming to light.

    Cardinal Midzenty was treated almost uncivily by Paul VI - as if he were an embarassement-in the Vatican's new policy of detente with Communism and Moscow back in the late 1960's and very early 1970's. To deprive the Cardinal of his title of Primate was beyond cruel.
    It showed a calculated contempt and repudiation for all Cardinal Midzenty suffered for the Church and the Faith.
    From what I read, he was also treated likewise by the clique of radicals in the Vatican who hovered around Paul VI.

  6. I think everyone should read the account of how this great man was tortured by the Communists. It's in a work entitled "The Rape of the Mind". There are no words to describe the physical and mental pain and cruelty that the cardinal went through... He went through a hell that very, very few canonized martyrs ever endured.

  7. Truly a hero saint - the gem of Hungary. A victim of the hand of the pontiff that he sought to serve and defend.

    Cardinal József Mindszenty pray for us and for all Catholics persecuted for the faith!

  8. Anonymous6:43 AM

    I recall reading somewhere that Montini, who was in the secretariat of state at the time, worked to turn the Hungarian hierarchy against Mindszenty during his great tribulation. The cardinal was considered too confrontational and he was not universally popular in the hierarchy (in fact, his predecessor in the primatial see opposed his appointment to the diocese of Veszprem, which he headed for a brief time prior to becoming primate). If correct, the Vatican's detente was perhaps less an indication of a response to the perceived geopolitical realities of the late 1960s/1970s than the result of the ascendancy of a group that favored compromise all along. Lamentable... I do not remember where I read about Montini's attitude and possible machinations in the late 1940s, and have not followed up, but maybe this article will spur me to do so.

    Stephane--I think the title of prince primate is secular, not ecclesiastic, and lapsed with the end of the monarchy. Mindszenty's use was thus strictly personal, and it's none use in our time is not a personal choice of the three post-Mindszenty primates.

    Anonymous xxx -- Mindszenty died in Austria in 1975.

  9. Anonymous12:34 PM

    This is really revealing as to the character of Paul VI, which has been shown by many, many articles and contributors to blogs as to NOT have been for the benefit of the Church.
    Montini was suspect even in the Vatican in the late 1940's and early 1950's with regards to his theological leanings, and his political connections. He was also suspect for not supporting the hard line against Communism initiated by Pius XI and Pius XII expecially.
    Cardinals Pizzardo and Ottiaviani were very much against him, especially Pizzardo. They knew who he was, and who his radical circle of priest friends were.
    Montini was a supporter of the radical "worker-priest" movement in France, which Pius XII eventually supressed. He was also influenced by and supportive of some of the most radical and questionable of contemporary theologians in the Church, even before he became Pope. The French Chenu, Congar, and several German radical theolgians were his favorites.
    Many have put forth reasons why Montini was suffenly removed from the Curia of Pius XII in 1954 and "promoted" to Archbishop of Milan. It was less a promotion, and more of a move to "get rid" of him from the Vatican inner circle.
    Unfortunatly, it was a huge mistake of Pius XII to send him to such a major Italian posting. A tiny Italian diocese in obscurity would have been better.
    The traditionalists, or shall we say , the faithful Catholics in the Vatican were horrified when Montini emerged as Pope in 1963, and Cardinals Pizzardo, Ottaviani, and others were courageous enough afterwards to speak out against him, as did Cardinal Spellman (who disliked John XXIII also due to his liberal views).
    The wreckage of the Church during the time of Paul VI, and the shabby treatment dealt to faithful Catholics (cardinals, bishops, and others), by Paul VI as he and his supporters tried to shove "Vatican II" and its reforms down the Church's throat came as no surprise to these great men.
    But unfortunatly, Cardinal Midzenty expected better for all his years of suffering and sacrifice, and was shocked by the cold, unsympathetic treatment from Paul VI, and the Vatican of that time. It caused a further decline to his health.
    Midzenty was a saint. He represents the true Catholic Faith.
    Perhaps one day he will be honored as such.

  10. Please, not Midzenty but MiNdSzenty. He was born Josef Pehm but, in a patriotic move, decided to change his German name to a more Hungarian one: Mindszenty József, after the name of his birthplace, Csehimindszent.
    Mindszenty means litt. "of all saints": mind=all, szent=saint, + y (i in modern Hungarian) an adjectival suffix.

  11. Anonymous3:38 PM

    In the eyes of the world, the life of a saint is nothing more than a tragedy. When reading his memoirs, I had to remind myself to see his life in the light of Faith. It was one of the saddest accounts I have ever read.

    His canonization would be for the greater glory of God, and a merited honor for this great man. Why hasn't it been done?


  12. Anonymous5:46 AM

    Dear New Catholic, check this out if you like:
    more pictures to come.


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