Here’s the Prayer of Journalist St. Titus Brandsma Before He Died for Freedom of the Catholic Press

Carmelite priest founded a magazine and became chief editor of a newspaper. He advised journalists in his native Netherlands to resist the Nazis and was later killed by the Nazis.

St. Titus Brandsma worked in the Catholic press. He served as spiritual adviser to the staff of more than 30 Catholic newspapers in the Netherlands.
St. Titus Brandsma worked in the Catholic press. He served as spiritual adviser to the staff of more than 30 Catholic newspapers in the Netherlands. (photo: Credit: Congerdesign on Pixabay / St. Titus Brandsma Public Domain - Wikimedia Commons / Newspapers, Congerdesign on Pixabay; St. Titus Brandsma, public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated May 3, and the courage to get the truth out has sometimes cost the lives of Catholic journalists, among them St. Titus Brandsma, a Carmelite priest whose efforts cost him his life at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Father Brandsma (1881-1942), a native of the Netherlands, was a great devotee of St. Teresa of Jesus who reformed the Carmelite Order and wrote a great deal about her.

The Dicastery for the Causes of Saints states that St. Titus founded the magazine Roses of Carmel (Karmelrosen, later changed to Speling) and became chief editor of the newspaper De Stad Oss (The City of Oss). In 1935 he was appointed national spiritual adviser to the staff of more than 30 Catholic newspapers in the Netherlands and obtained his international journalist card.

After the Nazi invasion of Holland, the Catholic press in the area was forced to publish the regime’s advertisements and press releases that were opposed to the faith. The priest then went by train to visit Catholic newspapers to convey to them the directives of the Dutch bishops against the perverse dictatorship and to encourage them to resist the Nazis.

However, he was arrested and taken to the Amersfoort penal camp, where he was made to work in inhumane conditions. Later, he ended up in Dachau, the terrifying concentration camp in Germany, where the regime carried out experiments on prisoners, including Father Brandsma. In the end, he was killed with a lethal injection of carbolic acid.

Before dying, he gave his rosary to the nurse who was about to inject him with the deadly substance. She told him that she didn’t know how to pray, and he replied that she should just say: “Pray for us sinners.” Sometime later, the young woman converted and was a witness in his canonization process.

Father Brandsma’s body was never found, and it is believed that he was cremated in the ovens of the Nazi death camp. St. John Paul II recognized him as a martyr, and he was beatified in 1985. Pope Francis canonized him in 2022.

According to the Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad, dozens of international journalists and the 520-member German Association of Catholic Journalists signed a letter to Pope Francis asking him to name St. Titus Brandsma as the patron saint of journalism.

The Carmelites’ account of the saint’s life posted on their website includes a pprayer written by him on Feb. 12-13, 1942, while a prisoner at Scheveningen, Holland:

Prayer Before an Image of Christ

O Jesus, when I gaze on You

Once more alive, that I love You

And that your heart loves me too

Moreover as your special friend.

Although that calls me to suffer more

Oh, for me all suffering is good,

For in this way I resemble You

And this is the way to Your Kingdom.

I am blissful in my suffering

For I know it no more as sorrow

But the most ultimate elected lot

That unites me with You, O God.

O, just leave me here silently alone,

The chill and cold around me

And let no people be with me

Here alone I grow not weary.

For Thou, O Jesus, art with me

I have never been so close to You.

Stay with me, with

me, Jesus sweet,

Your presence makes all things good for me.

Translation: Susan Verkerk-Wheatley / Anne-Marie Bos

© Titus Brandsma Instituut 2018

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

An icon of Titus Brandsma is seen in Bolsward, the Netherlands.

Titus Brandsma: A New Patron Saint of Journalism?

More than 60 journalists write to Pope Francis with request, saying soon-to-be saint’s ‘journalistic works stand out among all his other activities,’ adding that ‘he gave his life for it. In our view, this makes him particularly suitable for this patronage.’

Titus Brandsma as rector magnificus of the Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1932.

Who Was Titus Brandsma?

Father Brandsma’s beatification cause opened in the Dutch Diocese of Den Bosch in 1952. It was the first process for a candidate killed by the Nazis.