Archbishop of Prague, Primate of Bohemia; b. Plzeu, Dec. 29, 1888; d. Rome, May 17, 1969. He studied in a classical gymnasium in Plzeu (1899–1907) and graduated with distinction in June of 1907. He was then sent to Rome to study theology (1907–11), was ordained on June 10, 1911, and graduated with the degree of doctor of sacred theology in 1912. After returning to his native country he was assigned to parish work (1913–15). He became the spiritual director in the Institute in Krč and from 1917 to 1929 was director of the Teachers Institute of St. Ann, conducted by the Congregation of School Sisters. His biography of the late Gabriel Schneider, a founder of the Congregation, was later accepted as his thesis habilitations at the Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague. He began his academic career in 1928, in the department of pastoral theology. During this time his pastoral interests covered all fields of spiritual life—adviser, retreat master, organizer, and leader in all aspects of catholic action.
Archbishop Kašpar made him rector of the major seminary in September of 1932. In 1936 he was made a papal prelate. On June 6, 1942, the German Gestapo took him to prison in Prague. He spent the rest of the war in concentration camps, first Teresin, then Dachau. Upon his return to Prague after the war, he continued to act as rector of the major seminary; and on Nov. 4, 1946 he was appointed archbishop of Prague to the great joy of the nation.
With the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in February of 1948, persecution of the Catholic Church began. On June 19, 1949, Beran was put under house arrest in his palace in Prague. After resisting the government's pressure to resign as archbishop, he endured repeated transferrals from one place to another calculated to destroy every trace of his actual whereabouts. He was freed by the president's amnesty in October of 1963 and was transferred to the village of Mukařov and then to Radvanov near Tabor, where he remained until Feb. 17, 1965; at that time he was made cardinal by Pope Paul VI and went to Rome, where he was forced to remain in exile.
Beran, speaking at the fourth session of Vatican Council II, became a champion of the Declaration on Religious Freedom. On Sept. 20, 1965, he spoke of the principle of the independence of the Church and received a standing ovation. As cardinal he made a trip to the United States in 1966, where he received several honorary academic citations and was enthusiastically accepted by the hierarchy and the people. His headquarters during his exile was the Pontifical Nepomucene College in Rome, where he died and was buried in the crypt of St. Peter by the pope himself.
Bibliography: l. nemec, Church and State in Czechoslovakia (New York 1955); "The Communist Ecclesiology during the Church-State Relationship in Czechoslovakia, 1945–1967," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 112, 4 (Aug. 1968) 245–276. d. o'grady "A Meeting with Archbp. Beran," U.S. Catholic (Dec. 1965) 34–36. "Cardinal Beran's 15-year Ordeal," Herder Correspondence 2, 8 (Aug. 1965) 260–261. f. anderson, ed., Council Daybook Vatican II, Session 4, Sept. 4, 1965, to Dec. 8, 1965 (Washington D.C. 1966) 35–36. Velka Mse (the Great Mass, Rome 1970).