Cardinal von Galen: a guide for our times

Hart werden, fest bleiben”: become tough, remain firm.


In times of tribulation the Nuns Comendadoras remember Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen (1878-1946), known as the “Lion of Munster”, whose memory is celebrated on the 22nd of March.

As Bishop of Munster he fought in the midst of calamity for the dignity of the human being. He defended humanity against the intolerance of Nazism that destroyed Germany and Europe. In 1937 he was one of the bishops who participated to the drafting of the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (With deep anxiety) of Pope Pius XI.

He fought against racism and anti-Semitism, and defended religious freedom. One of his struggles was against the Aktion T4 program of forced euthanasia.

A month after his death, the president of the association of Jewish Communities in Germany said: “Cardinal von Galen was one of the few upright and conscientious men who fought against racism in a most difficult time. We shall always honor the memory of the deceased bishop”.

He joined the Order of Malta in 1916 as a Knight of Honour and Devotion and in 1946 –after he was created a Cardinal by Pius XII– he was elevated to the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.

The canonical process started in 1956 was concluded positively in November 2004 under Pope John Paul II. Clemens August Graf von Galen was beatified on 9 October 2005 outside St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI, the 47th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius (1958).

Here we present the two obituaries, in French and German, that were written in the Rivista dell’Ordine at his death.

Cardinal von Galen: a guide for our times