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Blessed Titus Brandsma was a Dutch Carmelite priest and a great defender of the Church, especially against secular influence upon Christian press and freedom of speech, and in particular during the time of the Nazi dictatorship and rise to power in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Blessed Titus was born in 1881 on a small dairy farm to deeply pious Catholic parents in a Calvinist region in Friesland. He studied to become a Carmelite priest and was renowned for his knowledge of Carmelite spirituality and mysticism, translating the works of Saint Teresa of Avila into Dutch and founding a Catholic University.
He was a professor and also worked as a journalist and was the ecclesiastical adviser to Catholic journalists by 1935. He was outspoken against the evils of his times. He enjoyed to smoke a pipe and was an approachable, deeply holy Catholic priest, instructing his students and fellow Catholics with his knowledge, humour and good example.
When the Nazis invaded and occupied the Netherlands, Blessed Titus Brandsma fought boldly against the spread of Nazi ideology and for Christian educational and press freedom. This brought him to the attention of the Nazis. He was stalked and shadowed by the gestapo and when, in January 1942, he undertook to deliver by hand a letter from the Conference of Dutch Bishops to the editors of Catholic newspapers in which the bishops ordered them not to print official Nazi documents, as was required under a new law by the German occupiers, the Nazi’s plotted to arrest Blessed Titus.
Blessed Titus had visited 14 editors before being arrested on the 19th January 1942 at the Boxmeer monastery. He was held a prisoner in several locations, questioned by the Nazis and kept in a room where he spent his time in a routine of holy prayer and meditation, wrote beautiful reflections, prayers and thoughts and made many spiritual Communions. Eventually he was sent to Dachau Concentration camp.
In the camp, Blessed Titus was a bold and inspiring witness to Christ. On one occasion he was kicked and beaten by Nazi soldiers while concealing the Most Holy Eucharist in his little tobacco pouch upon his person. He secretly heard confessions, gave spiritual advice and encouragement in the terrifying environment but gradually fell ill and feared being taken to the infamous medical hospitals in the camp.
When his ill health could no longer be ignored, Blessed Titus was taken to one of the medical facilities. He suffered as part of the Nazi program of medical experimentation on prisoners with an aspect of holy peace and a few days later died a Catholic Martyr, executed by lethal injection by an SS nurse who had left the Catholic Faith.
Blessed Titus Brandsma's studies on mysticism were the basis for the establishment of the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen, dedicated to the study of spirituality. He is the patron of Catholic journalists, Friesland and tobacconists.
Learn the inspiring life, mission, heroic defence of the Catholic Faith and martyrdom of Blessed Titus Brandsma in a film that has been internationally praised for not only presenting details, information and facts but a prayerful and spiritual film experience.
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