Friday, 15 March 2019

Cardinal Beran's remains buried in St Vitus Cathedral

24 April 2018

Prague, April 23 (CTK) - The remains of Cardinal Josef Beran (1888-1969), former Prague archbishop and political prisoner under two totalitarian regimes, were deposited in the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague on Monday, repatriated from the Vatican almost 50 years after his death.

Beran, who spent much of his life as a prisoner of Nazism and Communism, died and was buried in exile and Monday's ceremony fulfilled his last wish to be buried in his homeland.

Arriving in Prague on Friday, the coffin with Beran's remains lay in state in the cathedral for three days, during which people came to pay homage to it.

After a divine service celebrated by Prague Auxiliary Bishop Vaclav Maly, the remains were buried in a newly created sarcophagus in the cathedral's Saint Agnes chapel tonight.

In his sermon, Maly drew a parallel between the life and deeds of Beran and those of Czech patron saint St Vojtech (Adalbert), the medieval second bishop of Prague and Christian missionary who died a martyr's death in 997.

Both St Vojtech and Beran could have opted for life in comfort but both preferred a genuine promotion of Gospel, Maly said.

He mentioned Beran's speech at the Second Vatican Council which many church historians consider his most significant in Rome exile. He called on the Catholic Church to respect the freedom of conscience of every man...he thought in a broad context of relations, which, too, he had in common with St Vojtech," Maly said.

Beran was born in 1888 in Plzen, west Bohemia. He studied theology and Christian philosophy at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and was ordained a priest in 1911.

Within the persecutions in reaction to the Prague assassination of Nazi top official Reinhard Heydrich in 1942, the Gestapo arrested Beran and imprisoned him. He was sent to the Terezin (Theresienstadt) camp and survived the Dachau concentration camp.

When the war ended, Beran was named Prague archbishop in late 1946. After the communist coup, he refused to be loyal with the Communist rule on behalf of the Catholic church and he banned priests from public and political activities.

Due to this, the Communist regime persecuted him and did not let him return from the Vatican in 1965.

After the fall of the Czechoslovak Communist regime, President Vaclav Havel decorated Beran posthumously in 1991. The process of Beran's beatification began in 1998.

In January 2018, Pope Francis approved the repatriation of his remains.

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