Monday, May 31, 2010
Blessed Jakob Gapp
Also known as
Seventh child in the working class family of Martin Gapp and Antonia Wach. Received a basic education in his native town, then entered the Franciscan high school in Hall in 1910. Austrian soldier on the Italian front from May 1915 till he was wounded in 1916; received the silver medal of Courage Second Class. On 4 November 1918 he became a prisoner of war in Riva del Garda; released 18 August 1919.
Entered the Marianist novitiate at Greisinghof, Upper Austria in 1921. Assigned to the Marian Institute in Graz as a teacher and sacristan for four years, while preparing for the seminary. Made his profession at Antony, France on 27 August 1925. In September 1925 Jakob entered the International Marianist Seminary in Fribourg, Switzerland. Ordained by Bishop Marius Besson at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Fribourg on 5 April 1930.
Back in Austria he worked as a teacher, director of religious education, and chaplain in Marianist schools till 1938. Economic conditions were terrible; Father Gapp collected food and other necessities from students, and gave his own heating coal to the poor.
Nazism was on the rise in Germany and Austria. Father Gapp saw the incompatibility of Nazism and Christianity, and began preaching this truth. When German troops arrived in Austria in March 1938, he left Graz. His superiors sent him home as they believed his anti-Nazi preaching would bring on the wrath of the Reich; but those institutions were already marked for destruction.
In Tirol he enjoyed the last moments of peace in his life. He was an assistant pastor in Breitenwang-Reutte for two months when the Gestapo, in October 1938, ordered him not to teach religion. Father Gapp taught uncompromising love for all men and women without reference to nationality or religion, and that "God is your God, not Adolf Hitler." In a sermon on 11 December 1938 he defended Pope Pius XI against the attacks of the Nazis, and directed the faithful of the parish to read Catholic literature instead of Nazi propaganda. He was advised to leave the country.
He escaped to Bordeaux, France, where he worked as a chaplain and librarian. In May 1939 he went to Spain where he served in the Marianist communities at San Sebastian, Cadiz and Valencia. The Gestapo had followed him, and in 1942 he received word of two people across the border in France who claimed to be Jews fleeing from Nazis in Berlin, and who wanted instruction in Catholicism. When he crossed into France to minster to him, they abducted him.
Father Gapp was arrested on 9 November 1942 in Hendaye, France, and brought to Berlin. On 2 July 1943 he was condemned to death for speaking against the Reich. Burial of his remains were denied as the Nazis feared he would be seen as a martyr, and his grave become a site of silent demonstration and rebellion. On the afternoon of 13 August 1943 he was advised he would executed that night. He wrote two moving farewell letters, and was martyred.
"Action is more important than theory!" -Father Gapp
26 July 1897 at Wattens, Austrian Tirol
guillotined at 7.08pm 13 August 1943 at Plotzensee Prison, Berlin, Germany; remains used for research at the Anatomical-Biological Institute of the University of Berlin
6 April 1995 by Pope John Paul II
24 November 1996 by Pope John Paul II
pending; if you have information related to the canonization of Blessed Jakob contact:
Haupstraße 3, 2100