Blessed Fidelis Jerome Chojnacki
November 1, 1906, Lodz, Poland-July 9, 1942, Dachau
Youngest of six children born to Waclaw and Leokadia Spurinska. Raised in a pious family. Studied in public schools and a military academy. Worked for a year at Szczuczyn Mowogrodzki in the Institute of Social Insurance. Worked at the Central Post Office in Warsaw. Member and administrator of Catholic Action. Worked against alcohol abuse and helped recovering alcoholics in his region. Joined the Secular Franciscan Order at the Capuchin church in Warsaw. Friend of Blessed Anicet Koplinski. Joined the Capuchins on 27 August 1933, taking the name Fidelis.
He developed a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Studied philosphy at Zakroczym. Founded a Club for Intellectual Collaboration for the seminarians. Continued his work with alcoholics, working a group of Franciscans. Studied theology in Lublin, begining in 1937; his studies were interrupted by the German invasion of Poland in September 1939.
Arrested for his faith on 25 January 1940 and held in the “Fortress of Lublin”. On 18 June 1940 he was moved to the prison camp at Sachsenhausen. To this point Fidelis has kept his optimism, hope and simplicity, but this camp broke him; the abuse of himself and the other prisoners sent him into depression. On 14 December 1940 he, with other priests and religious, was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp; tattooed with his prisoner number, and subjected to more abuse.
Abused, starved and over-worked, he developed a serious heart condition, and finally died of excessive abuse. His last words to fellow prisoners as he was being taken away were, “Praised be Jesus Christ; we’ll see each other in heaven.”
One of 102 Martyrs of World War II whose memorial is June 12.
Venerated March 26, 1999 by Pope John Paul II
Beatified June 13, 1999 by Pope John Paul II
Source: Patron Saints Index