Poppe, Edward Johannes Maria, Bl.
POPPE, EDWARD JOHANNES MARIA, BL.
Diocesan priest of Ghent; b. Dec. 18, 1890, Temse, East Flanders, Belgium; d. June 10, 1924 in Moerzeke, Belgium.
Edward Poppe, a baker's son, entered the diocesan seminary in May 1909. His first assignment following ordination (1916) was the working-class Sainte Colette's parish in Ghent, where he exhibited a special love for children, the poor, and the dying. Poppe's concern regarding the secularization of society led him to emphasize catechesis and the formation of Eucharistic associations.
He was appointed rector of a religious community in rural Moerzeke (1918) because of poor health. Although he was often too ill to get out of bed (1918–22), he used his time well for prayer, study, and writing about contemporary problems: ten short works, 284 articles, and thousands of letters.
He adopted the "Little Way" of Saint thÉrÈse de lisieux after a pilgrimage to her tomb in 1920 and began an intense campaign for re-evangelization centered around the Eucharist. Although he continued to concentrate on the religious instruction of young people, he also formed an association of priests, mobilized the laity, and invigorated social action in Flanders. He had a profound effect on a generation of Belgian priests when he was sent (October 1922) to Leopoldsburg as spiritual director to military chaplains.
He died two years later at age 34. On July 3, 1998, a miracle attributed to Poppe's intercession was approved, leading to his beatification by John Paul II, Oct. 3, 1999.
Bibliography: o. g. jacobs, Edward J. M. Poppe, 5th ed. (Averbode 1965). m. lekeux, La dure montée (Bruges 1964). f. van de velde, De wereld van Edward Poppe (Antwerpen 1983); Edward Poppe en de Vlaamse beweging (Veurne 1994). Acta Apostolicae Sedis, no. 19 (1999): 965.
[k. i. rabenstein]