Vatican: Communist-era Martyr Zeman to Be Beatified on September 30

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Slovak Salesian priest Titus Zeman. (Photo: tituszeman.sk)

Bratislava, April 5 (TASR) – The beatification of Slovak Salesian priest Titus Zeman, recently recognised by Pope Francis as a martyr under the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, will take place in Bratislava on September 30, the Vatican’s State Secretariat announced on Wednesday.

Official notifications to that effect were sent to the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Slovakia and Archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolensky. The beatification ceremony will be presided over on the Pope’s behalf by Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“In cooperation with the Father Archbishop, we’ve already launched preparations for this large and extraordinary ceremony. We’ll have a new blessed figure in Slovakia for the first time in 14 years, the first Slovak Salesian priest [ever]. We’re also pleased with cooperation with Vajnory parish, from which don Titus originated,” said provincial head of the Slovak Salesians don Jozef Izold.

Born in Bratislava-Vajnory on January 4, 1915, Zeman became a Salesian priest at the age of 25. He subsequently served as chaplain, school councillor and chemistry teacher. After the communists shut down monasteries in Slovakia on April 13, 1950, Zeman organised three illegal escapes for young Salesian seminarians to Italy in order to allow them to complete their studies and receive priestly ordination. The third escape across a swollen Morava River on April 9, 1951 went awry, however, with Zeman and the escapees captured and interrogated. Zeman, who was tortured during the investigation, was finally sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment. He was released on parole with poor health after 13 years and died five years later as a result of his torture and imprisonment on January 8, 1969.

The process of Zeman’s beatification, which included the exhumation of his remains, was launched in February 2010, and the so-called diocese phase was concluded in December 2012, before the issue began to be examined by the Vatican.