(ANS – Rome) – 27 June 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the martyrdom of four of the twelve Salesians, belonging to the St Hyacinth Province of Krakow, arrested on the night of 23 May 1941 by Gestapo officials. They are Fr Jan Świerc, 64, parish priest; Fr Ignacy Dobiasz, 61, parish vicar; Fr Franciszek Harazim, 56, professor of Theology; Fr Kazimierz Wojciechowski, 37, catechist.
After a summary interrogation, although completely uninvolved with any form of political propaganda, they were accused of participating in clandestine organizations and, even more serious, of promoting the national culture – to the detriment of Nazi Germany – among young people, exploiting the influence deriving from their priesthood. That was enough to deserve the torture and the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Deprived even of their name, they were forced to wear the bloody rags of those who, before them, had not survived the terrible penal company to which the accused of serious crimes were destined. Almost suffocated by the nauseating fumes of the burnt corpses that rose from the crematorium chimney, beaten and exhausted by the inhuman work, in a short time they fell by the hands of the SS men.
Fr Jan Świerc and Fr Ignacy Dobiasz were the victims of that morning of June 27, 1941. In the afternoon, Fr Franciszek Harazim and Fr Kazimierz Wojciechowski suffered martyrdom, side by side.
“This sacrifice was a seed of life, a seed of victory […]. Those pastors […] for the Christian life of every parishioner and especially for young parishioners […] paid not only with a good word, not only with the good example of their generous life, but also with the sacrifice and blood of martyrdom,” the then archbishop of Krakow and cardinal, Karol Wojtyła, said of them in the homily of January 30, 1972.
The Positio super martyrio is currently being drafted for these and five other martyrs (Fr Ignacy Antonowicz, Fr Karol Golda, Fr Ludwik Mroczek, Fr Wlodzimierz Szembek, Fr Franciszek Miśka).