Blessed Józef Innocenty Guz, 1890 – 1940
Conventual Franciscan friar, priest
Józef Wojciech Guz was born on March 18th, 1890, in Leopoli. After attending the primary school and the gymnasium in his hometown, he wanted to enter the Company of Jesus, but he wasn’t accepted because his financial situation wasn’t enough good. So he decided to become Franciscan.
On August 25th, 1908, he put on the Franciscan habit, receiving the name Innocenty. At the end of the year of noviciate, on August 26th, 1909, he pronounced his temporary vows in Leopoli. Afterwards, he began to study philosophy and theology in Krakow and, when he finished studying, he was ordained priest (June 2nd, 1914).
He practised his sacred ministry at Hanaczów, Czylki, Halicz, Warsaw, Leopoli and Radomsko, but his longest stay was in Grodno. Here, he met Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who in the years 1922-27 published, in that convent, the Rycerz Niepokalanej (Knight of the Immaculata). In the years 1933-36 he stayed in Niepokalanów, where he practised the ministry of confessor for the numerous brethren of that convent; moreover, he was the vice-teacher of the seminarians and singing-master in the missionary minor seminary. In 1936 he was moved again to Grodno, where he was caught in the second World War and the Russian occupation.
On March 21st, 1940, he was arrested by the Soviet authorities and shut up in the prison of Grodno, from which he succeeded to escape. Crossing the Russian-German frontier, he was captured by the Germans and taken at first to the prison of Suwalki and then on April 20th he was taken to the prison of Dzialdowo. On May 8th, he was transported to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg.”
On May 29th – as reported by a priest, Don Stanislaw Borowczyk – all the priests and the Jews were put together and for one week they were subjected to inhumane exercises. Father Innocenty had several fractures. On June 6th, when our section moved to reach our place of work, he wasn’t able to keep in step with the others because his leg was so swollen. For this reason he was taken out of the group and, together with Don Czapczyk of Warsaw, he was beaten up, kicked and compelled to reach the section, jumping with his legs bent. Here, the guard of the dormitory, Fritz, took both of them to the bathroom and began to throw cold water at them. After a while, he pushed the priest into a basin full of water, he poked a rubber hose in his mouth and, in this way, he killed him”. At the point of death, Father Innocenty spoke to the friend who was beside him: “I go to the Immaculata. You remain here and do what you have to do”.
Don Borowczyk, his fellow prisoner at Sachsenhausen, says: “Father Guz spent the last period of his life as a real martyr and I think that we should pray not for his soul, but in order to obtain his help”.