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Apostolic Movement

Facts and interesting details about the life of Blessed Karl Leisner

On August 12, the date of his death, the Church celebrates the memory of Blessed Father Karl Leisner, a member of the Schoenstatt Movement. He lived a life full of audacity and beautiful testimony, characterized by love for Christ in union with Mary. Leisner was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1996. He became a historic figure by facing the challenges of a concentration camp with faith and a smile on his face.

Interesting facts about Karl Leisner’s life

Here are some facts and interesting details about the life of this priest:

Karl Leisner

– Leisner was the oldest of five siblings and was an altar boy as a child.

– At the age of 16, he was elected as leader of the Catholic Youth in his district. Among its activities, the group combined prayer and outdoor exercises (such as camping and cycling).

– Karl spent six months in compulsory agricultural service, created by the Nazi government. During this time, he organized Sunday Mass for his fellow workers, despite government opposition.

– He was ordained a deacon on Annunciation Day, March 25, 1939. Shortly thereafter he discovered he was suffering from tuberculosis and was admitted for treatment at a sanatorium in St Blasien in the Black Forest.

– He was detained for a single word. When a friend came to visit him at the sanatorium, he told him that the attempt on Hitler’s life had failed. Leisner did not hold back and said: “Schade!” (What a shame!). That was the reason he was denounced and taken as a political prisoner.

– As a prisoner in the Dachau concentration camp, Karl Leisner founded, together with Father Josef Fischer, the first Schoenstatt group in Dachau. Later he was part of the circle of Schoenstatters around the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, in the prison.

– Leisner is the only priest in history to be ordained in a concentration camp.

– In order to be ordained, he had to obtain authorization and documentation signed by the local bishop (of the Munich archdiocese). For this, he was assisted by “Mädi”, a young woman named Josefa Mack, known as the “Angel of Dachau”. She later became a consecrated woman, called Sister Maria Imma.
– 2,300 imprisoned priests attended his ordination ceremony on December 17, 1944.

– And not only Catholics participated in his ordination. Some imprisoned Protestant pastors helped organize the event and a Jewish violinist played music near the barracks to distract the guards’ attention.

– Although the situation was deplorable, Karl was never discouraged. He used to sign his letters writing: “Immerfroh”, which means: “always happy”.

– TIP: You can take a virtual tour of the chapel where he is buried – click here

Some of the personal goals that Karl Leisner pursued

Below are some of the personal goals that Leisner wrote down in his diary for personal growth. They may serve as inspiration on the path to holiness in our present life:

– Inwardly: no unworthy, disorderly, or vulgar thoughts. Honesty.
– Outwardly: always with proper behavior and attitudes. Decorum and politeness
– Begin the day with “sursum” (praise) to God. Begin the day with enthusiasm and piety.
– Rise promptly and punctually.
– Reflect calmly, then act with audacity.
– Spread the Catholic faith through the most concrete acts.
– Do not let the devil act; keep a strict schedule.
– Never feel sorry for yourself
– His petitions for seminary life were: “disciplined thinking, disciplined outlook, disciplined tendencies” and the ability to deliver speeches “speaking freely, without a written script”.

To inspire…

The life of every heroic figure – like Leisner’s – is not only remembered as a memorial, but as a way to inspire new generations. His example lives on so that many may be moved to become, through the Covenant of Love, a new man, a new saint for their time. May Father Karl Leisner intercede for this intention!


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