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Event commemorates priest whom communists tortured to death

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Cihost, East Bohemia, Feb 28 (CTK) – The overcrowded Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Cihost on Sunday commemorated Josef Toufar, local priest whom the Communist secret police StB tortured to death 66 years ago, at a divine service including the presentation of a new book on Toufar.

Toufar’s life story is also highlighted by a permanent exhibition that a museum seated in the Havlickuv Brod district centre installed in the Cihost rectory in 2012 and that is to be updated in the foreseeable future, priest Tomas Fiala said.

“At the exhibition, people can see documents, period photographs and archive items related to Toufar,” he said.

Extracts from a new book on Toufar, written by Milos Dolezal and entitled A Step Into the Dark Night, were read during the divine service.

The book offers a variety of aspects and situations to describe Toufar’s life story. It contains some 700 photographs, most of which have been published for the first time.

“I assessed the Cihost priest from various angles of view, through various events and phenomenons. I tried to describe his abduction and dying, and also his qualities as a teacher,” Dolezal said.

A special chapter focuses on the life and career of StB investigator Ladislav Macha, who assisted in murdering Toufar and who is still alive, aged 92.

The event known as the “Cihost miracle” occurred in the local church in December 1949, when the half-metre iron cross on the main altar moved several times on its own during a divine service celebrated by Toufar. About 20 people witnessed it.

Toufar, arrested by the StB on January 28, 1950, died after cruel interrogations and torture on February 25.

The communist regime proclaimed Toufar the Vatican’s agent, Western spy and skilled manipulator who “did not shun staging a fraudulent would-be miracle to achieve his goals.”

Toufar was buried in a mass grave at a cemetery in Prague. In July 2014, his bodily remains were exhumed, transferred to Cihost and ceremonially deposited in the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady.

President Milos Zeman bestowed the Medal of Merit on Toufar in memoriam on the occasion of the October 28 national holiday.

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