Brandsma, Titus, Bl.
BRANDSMA, TITUS, BL.
Baptized Anno Sjoerd, Carmelite priest, martyr for the freedom of the Catholic press, philosopher, historian of mysticism; b. Feb. 23, 1881, Oegeklooster in Bolsward, Friesland, The Netherlands; d. July 26, 1942, Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany.
One of six children of Tjitsje Postma and her husband Titus, Brandsma took the name Titus when he entered the Carmelite Order in 1898. His activities in the novitiate served as the foundation for much of his later work: he published a Dutch translation of selected writings of works of St. teresa of avila (1901), acted as literary agent for his religious brothers, and began an inhouse magazine that was eventually available to all Dutch Catholics.
Ordained in 1905, Brandsma earned a doctorate in philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome (1909). Returning to The Netherlands, he lectured in the Carmelite major seminary at Oss founded Carmelrozen, a journal of Carmelite spirituality and organized scholars to translate the works of St. Teresa. Meanwhile he promoted the study of Frisian language and culture, engaged in various civic and religious projects such as editing the local paper and establishing an apostolate for the reunification of the Oriental Churches.
In 1923, he took up a post as professor of philosophy and the history of mysticism at the newly founded Catholic
University of Nijmegen and in 1932 became rector. In addition to distinguishing himself in the study of medieval Dutch mysticism, he wrote on sociology and gained a reputation as a journalist. In 1935, he lectured in the U.S. In that same year he was appointed spiritual director of the union of Dutch Catholic journalists and began his campaign to denounce the anti-Semitic laws passed in Germany. After the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, he vigorously defended the Catholic schools and refused to dismiss Jewish children from them. In the name of the Dutch bishops, and with full knowledge of the likely consequence for himself, Brandsma induced Catholic newspaper editors to reject Nazi propaganda.
On Jan. 19, 1942, Brandsma was imprisoned at Scheveningen where he composed poetry, meditations on the Way of the Cross, and two booklets (My Cell and Letters from Prison ). Beginning in April he was transfered from prison to prison, arriving at Dachau on June 19. A month later Brandsma was taken to the camp hospital, where he became the subject of medical experiments. He gave his Rosary to the nursing aid who prepared the injection of carbolic acid which killed him ten minutes later. His body was cremated and the ashes deposited in a common grave. He was beatified Nov. 3, 1985, by Pope John Paul II.
Feast: July 27 (Carmelites).
Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1985): 1151. j. alzin, A Dangerous Little Friar (Dublin 1957). h. w. f. aukes, Het leven van Titus Brandsma (Utrecht 1963). r. m. valabek, ed., Essays on Titus Brandsma: Carmelite, Educator, Journalist, Martyr, (Rome 1985). b. hanley, No Strangers to Violence, No Strangers to Love (South Bend, Ind. 1983). h. klein, Liebender ohne Mass. Titus Brandsma (Trier 1967). b. meijer, Titus Brandsma (Bussum 1951). f. millan romeral, "Carmelitas en Dachau: las cartas del P. A. Urbanski, desde el lager, en el 50 aniversario de la liberación," Carmelus 42 (1995): 22–43. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, nos. 44 & 46 (1985). j. rees, Titus Brandsma: A Modern Martyr (London 1971). e. rhodes, His Memory Shall Not Pass (New York 1958). s. scapin, Tito Brandsma: maestro di umanitá, martire della libertá (Milan 1990). r. tijhuis, "Met Pater Titus Brandsma in Dachau," Carmelrozen nos.31–32 (1945/46): 18–21, 53–58, 80–85. Eng. tr. Dachau Eye–witness, in: AA.VV., Essays on Titus Brandsma, ed. r. valabek (Rome 1985): 58–67.
k. i. rabenstein]
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