Vatican/Prague, Jan 3 (CTK) – Pope Francis has given consent to the transport of Cardinal and Prague Archbishop Josef Beran’s remains to the Czech Republic, Ambassador to Vatican Pavel Vosalik told CTK by phone on Wednesday.
Beran was exiled to Rome, where he died in 1969, and was buried in the Vatican because then Czechoslovak communist authorities did not approve the return of his body to his homeland. He is the only Czech buried in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica.
In his last will, Beran asked to be buried in the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague or in his native town of Plzen.
Vosalik said Beran’s body might be transported to the Czech Republic in late April.
The remains are likely to be placed in the tomb of archbishops in the St Vitus Cathedral this year, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. According to unofficial information, this might take place on the day of one of the patron saints of the Czech Republic, either Adalbert (Vojtech) on April 23, or Wenceslas (Vaclav) on September 28.
The details, including the date of the transport, will be discussed after Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka returns from abroad, Prague Archbishopric spokesman Stanislav Zeman told CTK.
Zeman said Vosalik told Duka about the approval of Pope Francis.
Beran (1888-1969) became Prague’s archbishop in 1946 after he returned from the Dachau concentration camp, where he was imprisoned after Deputy Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated in Prague.
After the coup of 1948, Beran refused to give in to the communist regime. The StB secret police arrested him the following year and he was kept a prisoner in the Archbishop’s Palace in Prague for two years. Until 1963, he was interned in different places in Bohemia. Later, the communist authorities banned him from performing the role of the archbishop. In February 1963, he was nominated for cardinal by Pope Paul IV. He was given permission to leave the country and went to a ceremony in Rome, which, however, meant his expatriation as he was not allowed to return.
In Rome, Beran worked within the Second Vatican Council, where he delivered a principal speech on the freedom of conscience.
The process of Beran’s beatification began in 1998. Due to his long-term internment, Beran has become a symbol of persecution over religious belief and he reminded the democratic world of the hard fate of Czechoslovakia.