Lichtenberg, Bernhard, Bl.
LICHTENBERG, BERNHARD, BL.
Priest, martyr, provost of Berlin; b. Dec. 3, 1875, Ohlau, Silesia, Poland (then Germany); d. Nov. 5, 1943, Hof, Upper Franconia, Germany.
One of five children of the devout Catholic grocer August Lichtenberg and his wife, Emilie, Bernhard was raised in the predominantly Protestant town of Ohlau. After studying in Prague, Munich, and Innsbruck, he completed his theological studies in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), where he was ordained in 1899. He held various parish assignments in Berlin, then in 1914 served as military chaplain. In 1931 he joined St. Hedwig's cathedral chapter in Berlin, where he was appointed to the parish the following year and named provost in January 1938. He was a tireless promoter of the apostolate for priestly vocations.
As early as 1935, Lichtenberg protested from St. Hedwig's pulpit and to the government leaders against the atrocities in the concentration camps. Lichtenberg condemned the elimination of religious instruction in the schools, the secularization of marriage, and the euthanasia practiced against the innocent. Beginning in November 1938, he prayed publicly every day "for the oppressed non-Aryan Christians, for the persecuted Jews, and for prisoners in the concentration camps." Arrested in October 1941 but released shortly thereafter, he continued his prayers and protests. On May 22, 1942, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for treason and "misuse of his official position." While in prison Lichtenberg, who was 68 years old, suffered a heart attack. The Gestapo, fearing he would die in Berlin in their custody, put him in a cattle car en route to Dachau concentration camp. At Hof he was so sick that he was unloaded and taken to the city hospital, where he died.
John Paul II declared Lichtenberg a martyr July 2,1994. Following the beatification rite in Berlin's Olympic Stadium June 23, 1996, during John Paul II's third pastoral visit to Germany, the pope prayed at the martyr's tomb in the crypt of St. Hedwig's Cathedral.
Feast: Nov. 5 (Archdiocese of Berlin).
Bibliography: w. adolph, Im Schatten des Galgens (Berlin 1953). a. erb, Bernhard Lichtenberg: Dompropst von St. Hedwig zu Berlin, 5th ed. (Berlin 1968). c. feldmann, Wer glaubt, muss widerstehen: Bernhard Lichtenberg-Karl Leisner, 3d. ed. (Freiburg 1996). d. hanky, Bernhard Lichtenberg. Priester. Bekenner. Martyrer (Berlin 1994). b. m. kemper, Priester vor Hitlers Tribunalen (Munich 1996). e. kock, Er widerstand (Berlin 1996). h. kÜhn, Blutzeugen des Bistums Berlin (Berlin 1952). k. magiera, Bernhard Lichtenberg (Berlin 1963). o. ogiermann, Bis zum letzten Atemzug (Leipzig 1983).
[k. i. rabenstein]