Martyr Engelmar Unzeitig: The Angel of Dachau.

Born in Greifendorf, Czech Republic in 1911, Father Engelmar has been declared a martyr by Pope Francis due to his exceptional work in serving humanity. But what exactly attributed to this declaration?

Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig joined the missionary work at a very tender age of 18 years at the seminary of the Mariannhill Missionaries in Reimlingen. After several years of study in Wurzburg, Engelmar was able to make his final profession vows in the missionaries on May 1938.

A year after, he was ordained to the priesthood and in 1940, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig served as Parish priest in Glockelberg, Austria. During his ministry, his message was about having faith in God and he strongly condemned the ill treatment of Jews by the Nazi regime.  This did not auger well with the Nazis, and he was arrested on April 21, 1941, and taken to the Dachau concentration camp.

During his detention at the camp, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig was privileged to study Russian so that he could help the inmates who were from Eastern Europe. His unique devotional spirit originated from the Mariannhill Mission Society motto which states that “If no one else will go: I will go!”

Dachau concentration camp has been for many years regarded as the biggest monastery in the globe because it hosted thousands of priests and ministers in the church history. They were severely mistreated in the concentration camp although they were given an opportunity to worship from time to time.

In 1945, the concentration camp barracks were infested with deadly typhoid fever. This menace affected a lot of prisoners and due to his love for humanity; Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig was one of the volunteers who sacrificed their life to take care of the sick and pray with them.

Throughout his life, he was a staunch believer and his faith in God is best described by the two letters he wrote to his sisters when he was in the camp. He wrote:

“Whatever we do, whatever we want, is surely simply the grace that carries us and guides us. God’s almighty grace helps us overcome obstacles … love doubles our strength, makes us inventive, makes us feel content and inwardly free. If people would only realize what God has in store for those who love him!”

In his second letter, Fr. Engelmar stressed that:

“Even behind the hardest sacrifices and worst suffering stands God with his Fatherly love, who is satisfied with the good will of his children and gives them and others happiness.”

Unfortunately, Fr. Engelmar contracted the disease himself, and he lost his life on March 2, 1945, as a holy man. To honor his heroic deeds, his beatification process to become canonized saint was started on July 26, 1991, in Wurzburg, Germany. Benedict XVI declared him as venerable on July 3, 2009, a step that opened up the chance for Pope Francis to officially declare Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig as a martyr in an occasion that took place on January 21, 2016.

The declaration came just days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs on January 27 each year.

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