The Herzu Jesu church in Lubeck, where the martyrs were based
The execution of his own grandfather by the Nazis in 1943 has been the impetus for Adelaide parishioner John Jasiukaitis to raise the profile of three Catholic priests and a Lutheran pastor from Lubeck who were beheaded the same year for speaking out against the Hitler regime, reports The Southern Cross.
The three Catholic martyrs were beatified in June last year and the pastor was honoured in a special service. Prior to the beatification, Mr Jasiukaitis, from Glen Osmond wrote to Archbishop Philip Wilson about the fate of the clergymen and his own quest to verify the circumstances of his grandfather’s death at the hands of the Nazis.
Archbishop Wilson subsequently offered Mass for his grandfather, Carl Andreas Zimmer, and has actively promoted the story of the Lubeck martyrs, of which he was already familiar. This included celebrating their beatification at Mass last July.
“I have been overwhelmed by the Archbishop’s response,” Mr Jasiukaitis said.
Archbishop Wilson said the common sacrifice of the martyrs of Lubeck was a great example for us today in overcoming denominational boundaries. The friendship between the Lutheran pastor and the Catholic priests while they were in prison was unusual for its time.
Pope Benedict, himself a German, also recognised the significance of this in an address to the German ambassador to the Vatican: “The documented friendship between these four clerics while they were in jail represents an impressive witness to ecumenical prayer and suffering which in many places flowered among Christians of different denominations during the dark days of national socialism. We may regard these witnesses as shining lights on our common ecumenical path.”
Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink and Catholic chaplains Hermann Lange, Eduard Muller and Johannes Prassek were beheaded in the Hamburg prison Holstenglacis. They were sentenced to death for “undermining military strength, treachery, giving aid and comfort to the enemy and intercepting enemy radio stations”.
FULL STORY Local link to Lubeck martyrs (Southern Cross)