Blessed Mauritius (Maurice) Tornay, Priest and Martyr
Rosière, Switzerland, August 31, 1910 – To Thong, Tibet, August 11, 1949
Blessed Mauritius (Maurice) Tornay, professed priest of the Order of Canons Regular of St. Augustine of the Congregation of Saints Nicholas and Bemardo “Montis Iovis”, was born in Rosière (Joint Orsières – canton of Valais), Switzerland, August 31, 1910 and died a martyr at To Thong, Tibet, on August 11, 1949. His tomb is located at the Mission Yerkalo, Tibet-China. He was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 1993.
Roman Martyrology: In the region of Tibet, Blessed Mauritius Tornay, Priest and Martyr who, canon regular of the Congregation of Saints Nicholas and Bernard of Mont Joux-announced engagement with the Gospel in China and Tibet and was killed by the enemies of Christ.
In the Swiss canton of Valais, which in the third century was the scene of the tragic massacre of the Legion Thebes headed by St. Maurice, born sixteen centuries later, was Bl MaurizioTornay, who was given the name of the famous master of the Legion Thebes and how he would then testified his faith in Christ suffered martyrdom in the land of mission. Maurizio was born more precisely in the municipality of La Rosiere August 31, 1910, second of eight children of Giangiuseppe Tornay and Faustina Dossier, a pair of industrious farmers. The family lived in very modest conditions, but was strengthened by a strong faith. Mauritius, which he received the sacrament of baptism following September 13, was soon an impulsive and dominant character. He worked s hard as his brothers and sisters work in rural and leading happy and kept the herds to the pastures of “Crèstes”, at an altitude of 1700 meters.
He received his First Communion at the age of seven and this had a considerable influence on his behavior and his character improved happily. Every week he walked along the mountain paths for an hour to go down to where he could well approach for confession and Communion.
After primary school in his village, he attended the school in the College of Saint Maurice Abbey, run by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. He particularly preferred to study French literature, Molière and authors of his contemporaries. As capoclasse organized a strike as a demonstration of protest against the language of a young professor. Thus he was able to give expression of his religious sensibility that supported daily by participating in the Mass and reciting the Rosary. He was also a model for his peers for his behavior and his exemplary charity. During the vacation time he returned home, devoting himself to family members, and went on pilgrimage to Lourdes. He composed an hour in Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus to ask for the gift of humility.
On August 25, 1931 he was allowed to enter as a novice in the Congregation of Canons of St. Bernard, at the convent of the passage of the Great St. Bernard Pass on the border between the present Swiss canton of Valais and the Aosta Valley. It was only slightly over a month since he had applied for admission by saying “I am sure that I must be there” and that he wanted to engage with all its strength “to become a priest of St. Augustine, as much as possible to Saint Augustine.” He spent this year focusing on spiritual formation and the study of regulation and the history of the congregation.
The latter owes its origin to St. Bernard of Menthon, a native of Savoy, later archdeacon of Aosta, who lived in the eleventh century. He decided therefore to work for the safety of the hill, building a hospice at an altitude of 2500 meters, which became both a center of hospitality and prayer. Soon joined companions with him, giving birth to a new religious community, who adopted the Augustinian rule.
Through the centuries the number of religious, priests and laity in the congregation always fluctuated between 50 and 100 members. Even today, the ministry they exercised in the Church has remained the same origin and has spread to distant lands of mission at the site opened in the’30s in Tibet, now moved on to Taiwan.
Once the novitiate, Maurice Tornay his first vows on September 8, 1932. He attended courses in philosophy and theology, after three years professed his solemn vows. In 1936 he was granted leave on a mission to China, even before he had finished his studies in theology. Confided to his brother Louis to believe its most successful start to be more useful instead of the wellbeing of the family. Dell’immane aware that the work expected in the Chinese mission said: “I want to be consumed by pure love of God My dear Louis, from there do not come back again”.
The trip lasted a month and the difficulties were not long in coming. A Weis found barricaded the doors of the residence of the canons, because they were motivated to save themselves from robbers. Quiet session, Mauritius was able to return to devote themselves to studies theology, and to learning the Chinese language.
On April 24, 1938 he was ordained a priest in Hanoi and celebrated his first Mass at Siao-Weis. Even after three months he was entrusted with the training of students of the seminary of Houa-Pa-Lo, which he directed for seven years, distinguished for his admirable devotion. He claimed to have a great enemy to be fought: his own laziness and that of his students. His work was described thus: “The director has carefully edited to train his students to piety, loyalty, mutual support, love of work, etc.. Like Jesus, he began by giving examples: the theory and exhortations would be later. Raised good hours was thoroughly his prayers, his meditation, he celebrated his Mass, in order to be available for his students, from morning to evening. He took care of them with the tenderness of a mother, especially when they were sick. Sometimes he gave them his clothes and his bed, which put its top when the s’accorgeva thing, the obligation to supply to all.”
They were years of war and famine, which imposed a strict discipline and a forced diet. The cook usually prepared the meals for the delicate stomach of Tornay, but he preferred to distribute it first to his students motivated in this way: “How could I eat it before my children, while they devour it with their eyes?”.
Close to Easter of 1945, he received the appointment as pastor of Yerkalo, a lonely missionary outpost in Tibet, a land in the grip of a violent anti-persecution. He begged his ex-students to “pray a lot” because “at Yerkalo I could leave my life.” In this location, in fact, both the civil and religious authorities were run by the blade, which soon gave him to understand that it did not want to know more of the Christian presence in Tibet. Father Maurice tried to make it clear that he held that office by the will of his bishop. Some people of the village were mobilized to back either party from its positions in order to avoid the worst.
Tornay then chose the path of retreat to Pame and urging his parishioners to resist the atrocities of the persecution imperversante. He sought the support of the Papal Nuncio and the Chinese Government, but failed on the diplomatic route nunzio suggested leaving Lhasa, in the vague hope of being able to restore a climate of tolerance on the part of the Dalai Lama.
On hearing this, the blade that had expelled organized an ambush in Chinese territory. He was killed along the way to his home on August 11, 1949 on the hill of Choula., At an altitude of 4000 meters. The armed men charged dell’eccidio were rewarded with a prize of 1000 plates.
The two dead bodies were initially transported and buried in the garden of Mission Atuntze and subsequently transferred to the cemetery of the Mission Yerkalo, where he still is revered.
John Paul II, riconosciutone martyrdom “in odium fidei,” said Maurice Tornay beatified May 16 in 1993.
The new Martyrologium Romanum remembers well the day of his martyrdom: “For the borders of Tibet, I remember the B. Maurizio Tornay, priest and martyr who, canon regular of the Congregation of Saints. Nicholas and Bernard of Monte Giove, tirelessly proclaimed the Gospel in China and Tibet, before being assassinated by the enemies of Christ. “
Author: Fabio Arduino
Source: Santi e Beati