Blessed Marcel Callo Struggled From Depression — Here’s How He Recovered His Joy

Callo was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987. His feast day is March 19.

Blessed Marcel Callo
Blessed Marcel Callo (photo: Public Domain)

Blessed Marcel Callo (1921-45) was born in France, the second of nine children. He was active in scouting, and as a teenager was apprenticed to a printer. He joined the Young Christian Worker Movement and was elected president. His hobbies included playing cards and ping-pong.

He was devoted to the Blessed Mother, and made a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Distressed by the vulgar conversations of his co-workers, he would turn to the Blessed Mother in prayer: “Mother, remember I am thine own. Keep me and guard me as thy property and possession.”

Marcel was a natural leader and impressed those around him by his commitment to his Catholic faith and his life of virtue. He wrote, “We are often bad instruments in God’s hands, because we have bad habits, bad inclinations. We become good instruments when we center our lives around Christ. … Every day, I must become, little by little, more like Christ.”

The Holy Eucharist was central to Marcel’s life. A friend noted that the Host was not “something” to him, but “Someone,” Jesus Christ. He was devoted to the Sacred Heart, an image of which he hung over his bed.

He was engaged to Marguerite Derniaux at age 20, but World War II brought tragedy to his life. His sister Madeleine was killed in a bombing raid. When the Germans occupied France, he was conscripted to work in an airplane factory in Germany. Although reluctant to comply, he finally went out of fear of reprisals against his family.

He suffered under harsh working conditions and struggled with depression. He recovered Christian joy through his faith. He said, “Finally Christ reacted. He made me to understand that the depression was not good. I had to keep busy with my friends and then joy and relief would come back to me.”

He was arrested by the Gestapo for being “too Catholic” in 1944, and was sent to a concentration camp. He died of dysentery there in 1945, just weeks before the Allies arrived to liberate the camp.

In his final letter home written in 1944, he wrote:

Happily, there is a Friend Who does not leave me for a single moment, and who knows how to support me through the painful and crushing hours. With Him, one can endure anything. How I thank Christ for having laid out the path that I am following right now. What great days to offer Him!

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987. His feast day is March 19. He is the patron of those suffering from depression, prisoners, youth and youth workers.