Blessed Jakob Kern, Norbertine Priest
April 11, 1897, Vienna, Austria-October 20, 1924
Roman Martyrology: In Vienna, Austria, Blessed James (Francis Alexander) Kern, Norbertine Priest: still a student, called to arms in World War I and seriously wounded, he devoted himself with all diligence to the pastoral ministry, which he performed for short time, suffering from a long and relentless disease, which he accepted with fortitude, in peaceful obedience to God’s will
Francis Alexander Kern, was born in Vienna on 11 April 1897, his mother had longed for his coming and introduced him as a child to religious life, take part as a boy in the life of the parish and right there he heard the call to follow Christ.
The family, the parish community, school, friends, were key factors and fertile ground for a vocation. Thus came the diocesan seminary of Hollanbrunn he loved and preferred the adoration and had a particular veneration for Jesus, and later he joined the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Atonement.
He was involved in World War I, as a seminarian, he was recruited in 1915, had to participate in a war for which he did not understand the underlying motives, nevertheless he fulfilled his duty by establishing good relationships with fellow soldiers, who respected his convictions and his acting in accordance with the desire to be a priest.
On September 11, 1916 he was seriously wounded, with perforation of the lungs and liver, he had begun “holy week” as he called them later, the wounds were not treated well, he fought against death in Lazzaretto and miraculously survived.
During this senseless war, he continued his theological studies in Vienna, though in poor health, while others became lieutenant with experience in war, when the conflict ended he returned to Vienna seminayr, this was not heard by then, a future pastor souls must be able to live among the people, in everyday life, to understand the needs and moods.
He began listening to the will of God for the future, learning that in the neighboring Czech region after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had established a national church, one of the most active builders was a Norbertine Monk, Strahov Isidore Zahradník, who had left his monastery with other brethren.
Francis Kern reached the decision to take the place of those who had left the monastery, which stood along the Czech border. His spiritual director agreed that the young Kern felt for a year as a religious life in the abbey of Geras, affected by the fact that this ancient abbey founded in 1153, had witnessed many parishes and pastoral Kern aware of his health limitations, believed that the institution of Saint Norbert was right for him and his desire was to commit fully to others.
He suffered twice the removal of more ribs, without anesthesia, because his weak heart could not bear it, its terrible pain could be endured only shared with the sufferings of our Lord.
Francis Alexander Kern entered Geras (Vienna) in 1920 taking the name of Jakob, made his novitiate and through a papal dispensation was ordained a priest in 1922, the evening and the night before his first Mass, he had a severe hemorrhage, it was feared who would have celebrated the entry into heaven.
On October 20, 1924 he made his joyful religious profession, the day following, October 21 he received the last sacrament and returned to heaven at just 27.
It was his life intensely varied though brief, of the Child and diligent student, a young man met his vocation as a seminarian, active soldier and officer in the war, wounded by the trail of incredible pain, as Priest and Monk committed by expiatory victim with his life, for the glorification of the Heart of Jesus.
Pope John Paul II beatified him on June 21, 1998 in Vienna, during his pastoral visit to Austria.
Author: Antonio Borrelli
Source: Santi e Beati