Rorate Caeli

Titus Brandsma, O.Carm. (July 26, 1942)

Father Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite friar and prominent Dutch scholar, was one of the over 1,000 Catholic priests who perished in the concentration camp of Dachau, near Munich (Bavaria, Germany). It is thought that Brandsma, who had been interned in Dachau for several months, was executed exactly 70 years ago today, on July 26, 1942. 

On that Sunday, Brandsma's sacrifice was united to the holy One he had celebrated so many times at Holy Mass. On that Sunday, the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, new waves of persecution would be launched in his native Netherlands due to the reading from pulpits across the nation of the Pastoral Letter of the national episcopate (see previous post). 

Why had Brandsma been detained and sent to Dachau? He had been under strict surveillance by the German forces of occupation and their local National Socialist collaborators for some time. He was a great master of Carmelite spirituality, but that was not the problem for the occupation forces - the problem was the influence the former Rector of the Catholic University of Nijmegen had with Abp. de Jong, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht. 

Catholic periodicals had always blocked the publication of Socialist and Communist propaganda - they should not, and could not, print National-Socialist propaganda either. Abp. de Jong published the following note, drafted by Brandsma:

Circular of the Archbishop of Utrecht in the name of the Episcopate to the directors and editors-in-chief of Catholic periodicals

16 January 1942

We are completely aware of the most difficult position in which the Catholic press finds itself as well as of the big economic interests that are at stake. We would also greatly deplore if the Catholic press, which has been built through so many efforts and sacrifices, and which have done so much good, were to disappear. But there are limits and we could not recognize papers as Catholic that propagate a view of life that is in conflict with the Catholic view. These [papers] would be of even greater danger to Catholics than neutral or National-Socialist papers, as the faithful take a reserved stand towards these, whereas they would believe that the Socialistic view of life would be acceptable to them if it were propagated in papers with an otherwise Catholic position. Also, it would cause scandal if Catholic journalists were allowed to propagate National-Socialism, which is prohibited to others.

Therefore this reverend Episcopate declares explicitly that the admission of advertisements of the N.S.B. [Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging - Dutch National Socialist Movement] in your papers, as well as the admission of articles that tend to promote the N.S.B. in whole or partly (unless they are, in relation to this matter, effectively improved, corrected or cut down), deprives your paper of its Catholic character and that the public will be notified of this. Concerning the admission of those National-Socialist messages and reports whose publication is obligatory, their source must be made clear. The reverend Episcopate also declares that disregard for these norms must in general be considered as a sign of significant support to the NSB and that those responsible for it also fall under the sanctions that are hereby applied.

In order to achieve a unanimous attitude, the reverend Episcopate would mostly appreciate the receipt of a written declaration - via the Spiritual Advisor [of the Chancery], Prof. Dr. T. Brandsma - that you, as a director or editor-in-chief, are willing to follow these norms.

Bl. Father Bradsma would be detained days after the publication of this note. 


  1. NIANTIC1:33 AM

    One more example of true faith, courage and clarity by the Dutch Bishops (and Priests) during dangerous times under Nazi occupation.
    What a contrast to the wolves who were responsible for the Dutch Church after Vll and all but destroyed the faith.
    And what a contrast to modern Bishops, for example here in the USA, who allow "catholic", including diocesan, publications containing modernist drivel. Amazing.

  2. Anonymous3:33 AM

    Wow, following a Bishop Lynch write-up with a reflection on Titus Brandsma is a remarkable study in contrasts. The kingdom of man and the kingdom of heaven--what a stunning difference! God bless you.
    Scott W

  3. Gratias7:22 AM

    The Catholic periodicals of our current age are Rorate Caeli, Messa in Latino, Accion Liturgica and other vibrant blogs.

  4. Thorin8:28 AM

    Very edifying. Thanks for posting.

  5. NIANTIC12:25 PM

    In 1985 Pope John Paul ll honored Fr.Titus Brandsma, and declared him to be blessed and martyr. His feast day is July 27th in the Carmelite order.

  6. We need many more articles like this. If for no other reason than to remind us that we have had better...MUCH way of priests and bishops than what we have today.

    Real men...Catholic men such as Titus Brandsma are sainted souls whose examples we should follow. Anything less...the Lynches, the Wuerls, the Pflegers, the Currans, the Kungs, etc should be shunned and rejected. Do not let your children anywhere near these such people but do every day teach your children how an ordained Catholic man really behaves.

    There are enough of these saintly Catholics both living and deceased to have a different bedtime story every day of your child's life until they graduate highschool. If we don't give our children heroes, someone else will.

  7. "Bl. Father Bradsma would be detained days after the publication of this note."

    Bl. Father Bradsma, ora pro nobis!!


    The power of the cassock
    Is to lure
    Like fishermen
    To nets secure.

    The power of the cassock
    Ebony shine
    A hull of hues
    On deck Divine.

    The power of the cassock
    Anchors the man
    Dead to the world
    In his sea-span.

    The power of the cassock
    Weighted strength
    Before the mast
    It's linen length.

    The power of the cassock
    Sails your soul
    To greater depths
    From shallow shoal.

    The power of the cassock
    Captains' pure
    The fishermen
    Our land-locked cure.

  8. Great post. Fr. Titus, ora pro nobis!

    Awesome poem Long Skirts!

  9. dominic19553:37 PM

    That's nice, but since Fr. Brandsma was a Carmelite, he would have been wearing the brown habit of the Order, not a cassock...

  10. dominic1955 said...

    "That's nice, but since Fr. Brandsma was a Carmelite, he would have been wearing the brown habit of the Order, not a cassock..."

    You're right, dominic, how about this poem for all the truly holy, Priests?


    The sweetness of my prose for you
    Is but a taste of Heaven's dew.
    The sweetness of my prose I give
    To you as long as I shall live.

    The sweetness of my prose I owe
    To you who helped me in my woe.
    The sweetness of my prose desired?
    Shrive my soul, you have inspired.

    The sweetness of my prose your feast
    O, man above the angels least.
    The sweetness of my prose a flower
    Perfumed to sweeten your spiritual power.

    'Fore virile men sheep shake in fear
    Sweet scented strength will bring them near.
    To shepherd's side, marked man of God
    O, lead us all to Heaven's Sod!


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