Quote of the day, 20 April: St. Titus Brandsma

April 20 ´[1942] was Hitler’s birthday and the prisoners were required to decorate the SS officers’ club [at Amersfoort Transit Camp], inside and out, with huge pictures of the dictator and other-high ranking Nazis, as well as with swastikas and other ornaments.

To celebrate the event a few members of the resistance movement were to be set free. Titus entrusted one of them with a message for Fr. Schiphorst, pastor of the Church of St. Boniface in Amsterdam, the man with whom he had spent his last afternoon as a free man. In it, he mentioned the stomach pains that were bothering him.

The very next day the tribunal published a list with the names of those condemned to be executed. These men were then held in barracks Nº 4 under close guard. Before the guard was set, some of the other prisoners—Brandsma among them—attempted to talk with and encourage them.

In a letter from Kleve, the prison where he was soon to be sent, Titus told his prior that he had been able to reach one of them, whom he identified with a Latin name, scintilla—a word that would identify him to anyone who knew the language but was unlikely to be understood by the camp authorities.

He wrote:

“Please extend my condolences on the death of Scintilla. The family will be comforted to know that he went to his death with his soul fully prepared, with his mind focused on heaven, and with expressions of deep affection for all his family.”

Miguel Maria Arribas, O.Carm.

Chapter IX, An exceptional prisoner

Note: Biographer Father Arribas explains that only one year earlier, on 20 April 1941, the Nazi Department of Education issued an order that all religious dedicated to teaching were to receive only 60% of their salary. “Incredible,” Titus commented: “this is a disgrace for the authority responsible and will be the ruin of our schools.”

Arribas O.Carm., M 2021, The Price of Truth: Titus Brandsma, Carmelite, Carmelite Media, Darien, Illinois.

Featured image: Not long before his arrest, this photo was taken of St. Titus Brandsma. He is 59 years old and unwell. Image credit: Nederlands Carmelitaan Instituut (used by permission)

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