Cardinal Count of Galen

Clement Augustus Card. Count of Galen

16 March 1878 – 22 March 1946

Clement Augustus Count of Galen was born on the 16th of March, 1878, at the castle of Dinklage (now a Benedictine nunnery) in the northern part of the bishopric of Münster into a prolific catholic noble family. His father was Count Ferdinand Heribert of Galen, his mother Elizabeth, née Countess of Spee. His domestic education was marked by deep piety and a strong sense of family. He absolved the Jesuits’ grammar-school at Feldkirch and passed his final examination in 1896 at Vechta. After having studied philosophy at Freiburg/Switzerland, he decided to become priest. After his theological studies at Innsbruck/Austria and Münster he was ordained on the 28th of May, 1904, by bishop Hermann Dingelstad in the cathedral of Münster. In his first years as a priest, he was Vicar of Münster Cathedral and accompanied his uncle, suffragan bishop Maximilian Gereon Count of Galen, on his journeys to administer the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation. In 1906, he began his pastoral work in Berlin as chaplain at St. Matthew’s (Schöneberg), was curate at St. Clement’s and since 1919 parson of St. Matthew’s. In the difficult times of the first world war and during the disorders of the post-war times, he proved to be a pious, unselfish priest and ardent pastor in restlessly standing up for the catholics of the diaspora metropolis entrusted to him. In 1929, bishop John Poggenburg appointed him as parson of the important church of St. Lambert’s in Münster. In September 1933, Pope Pius XI  appointed him bishop of the diocese of Münster, vacant since January 1933. On the 28th of October, 1933, he was consecrated by Cardinal Schulte, Archbishop of Cologne. True to his motto »Nec laudibus, nec timore« - neither for the sake of praise nor of fear, he became the good shepherd of his flock. Soon he opposed openly  the anti-ecclasiastical efforts of the Nazi government, for the first time in his Lenten pastoral letter 1934. With zeal and devotion he fulfilled the duties of his episcopal office and experienced with great joy, especially on his Confirmation journeys, his community with the faithful. Brotherly cooperation with the German bishops and loyal devotion to the Holy Father in Rome proved his genuine ecclasiastical sentiments. The suffering of the persecuted, particularly that of his priests in the concentration camps, of the soldiers and many others during the war, he experienced with deeply human compassion. When the Nazi government, despite the state of war, continued to pursue its anti-ecclasiastical policy, and even seized monasteries and began to systematically kill the mentally disturbed, he felt obliged to raise his voice against this; on the 13th and 20th of July and on the 3rd of August, 1941, he delivered his three now famous sermons, which were spread world-wide. He was convinced that the government, thus drastically criticized, would take action against him and that he put his life at stake. But he was willing to undergo martyrdom for God, Christ and his brothers and sisters. The war destroyed his bishop’s town. More than for the loss of his house and his belongings, he suffered for the destruction of his cathedral. In the hard months after the war, too, the bishop stood like a rock amidst his priests and the faithful people. On the 18th of February, 1946, Pope Pius XII. created him a cardinal. On the 16th of March, the cardinal, having returned from Rome, held his triumphal entrance in Münster. Soon he fell gravely ill; an operation could not save his earthly life. On the 19th of March, the feast of St. Joseph, his baptism’s day, he received the Holy Sacraments. God called him to his eternal kingdom on the 22nd of March, 1946, by five o’clock. Thousands prayed at his bier in the Erpho Chapel of St. Maurice’s and attended his funeral procession and burial on the 28th of March in the Ludgerus Chapel of the destroyed cathedral.
On the 10th of July, 1956, the priestly community «Confraternitas Sacerdotum Bonæ Voluntatis» asked his successor to open the process of beatification for Cardinal von Galen. The Most Reverend Michael Keller, Bishop of Münster, complied with this request on the 22nd of October, 1956. Since November 1959, the process is instituted at the proper Roman congregation. Much prayer and work is still needed in order to conclude it successfully.
Many answered prayers, attributed to the intercession of the servant of God, have been reported. If you experienced his interceding help an a similar way, please report this to the Vice-Postulator, canon Dr. Hellbernd, 48003 Münster, Germany.

Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Clement Augustus Cardinal Count of Galen

God, Thou hast cosen Thy faithful servant Clement Augustus as priest, and appointed him in difficult times bishop of Münster. Thou gavest him strength to intrepidly defend Thine honour, the faith of the Church and the right to live of defenceless people and to be himself a shining example of loyalty of faith. Humbly we beseech Thee: Let Thy servant share Thy glory and grant us such grace that we soon may venerate him publicly as a Saint of Heaven, so that we may praise Thee for his service’s sake. But to all, who call unto Thee trusting in his intercession, grant welfare of soul and body through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For private use only.
German version (translation by Gregor Kollmorgen) with ecclasiastical approbation.