Kern, Jakob Franz, Bl.

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Baptized Franz (Francis) Alexander Kern, Norbertine priest; b. April 11, 1897, Vienna; d. there, Oct. 20, 1924. One of three children of a working-class family, Kern discerned a call to the priesthood at an early age. He was in the minor seminary at Hollabrunn hoping to become a diocesan priest, when his studies were interrupted by the outset of World War I. He was drafted (1915) and sent to Vöklabruck for officer training. As an officer in the Austrian Army with the Fourth Tyrolean Imperial Fusiliers, he was severely wounded on the Italian Front (Sept. 11, 1916). After recuperating in Salzburg for nearly a year, he resumed his seminary studies, but was recalled to military duty until the end of the war. Thereafter, he recommenced with his training for the archdiocesan priesthood. Upon hearing that Father Isidor Bogdan Zahrodnik, a Norbertine, had left his monastery for the schismatic Czech National Church, Jakob felt an inward compulsion to complete his training as a priest. He entered the Premonstatensian Abbey of Geras, northwest of Vienna near the Czech border, to begin his novitiate (1920). On July 23, 1922, with a dispensation because he had not taken his final vows, Brother Jakob was ordained in Saint Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna. He developed complications from his war injuries that debilitated him. On the day he was to make his solemn profession, he died during a second surgery. Kern's mortal remains are preserved in a small silver casket in a chapel adjacent to the Norbertine abbey church at Geras. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in the Heldenplatz at Vienna, June 21, 1998.

Feast: Oct. 20.

Bibliography: p. vogel, Drei Aarauer Pioniere (Zurich 1980). h. j. weldinger, Jakob Kern, tr. h. s. szanto (Silverado, Calif. 1998). Sühnepriester Jakob Kern (Graz 1960). L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 29 (1995) 5; 25 (1998) 2.

[k. i. rabenstein]