By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary on Saturday, October 19, witnessed the beatification of a Salezian monk who was executed for his Christian activities by Hungary’s Communist regime.
The beatification of István Sándor came just days before this heavily Catholic nation will remember the outbreak of the 1956 Revolution for freedom and against Soviet domination, which was eventually crushed by Soviet troops.
István Sándor, who was executed in 1953, “remained dedicated to serving others and this cost him his life” recalled Cardinal Péter Erdő at a beatification mass in front of Budapest’s massive St. Stephen’s Basilica.
The beatification of Sándor was proclaimed on behalf of Pope Francis by Cardinal Angelo Amato. The pontiff and leader of some 1 billion Catholics issued a beatification decree for 63 people, including Sandor, in March.
Beatification, from Latin beatus or “blessed”, is seen as a recognition by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.
It is also a key step towards the canonization process when a person is declared a saint in Catholic tradition. Evangelical Christians are among those questioning the practice saying everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has become a saint, with eternal life and a place in Heaven.
There was little attention for the controversy Saturday, October 19, with Erdő stressing that the “message of István Sándor is valid in our alienated world even today.”
He said, “A well-performed duty in line with God’s plan is the path to success for individuals, as well as for communities. We must pay honour to Sandor as a symbol of someone carrying out his duty faithfully and with dedication.”
The ceremony was attended by several dignitaries including President János Áder, House Speaker László Kövér, Cardinal László Paskai and Apostolic Nuncio Alberto Bottari de Castello, as well as Sandor’s relatives and hundreds of Salezian monks from around the world.
Hungary’s Communists banned all religious orders, including the Salezians, in 1950. Communists were crackdown on especially devoted Christians and those involved in Christian work.
Despite the threats, Sándor continued his community work and youth training activities.
Some of his students were youth raised in orphanages who were singled out by the secret police to become Communist party guards, reported state-run news agency MTI.
After authorities learnt about Sándor’s activities, they began secretly monitoring him.
Though Salezians arranged for him to flee the country with a fake passport, he decided to turn back to Hungary, “and chose martyrdom rather than abandoning his students,” MTI commented.
For some time, he lived and worked under a pseudonym but was eventually detained in July 1952 and sentenced to death.
OCTOBER 23 DAY
His beatification came shortly before Hungarians are expected to attend massive rallies in Budapest on October 23, when the country remembers the outbreak of the 1956 Revolution.
Last week, Hungarian prosecutors announced they have charged a former Communist official and interior minister with war crimes.
The now 92-year-old Béla Biszku was a member of the Communist Party’s Temporary Executive Committee, which set up militias to shoot at mainly unarmed protesters, killing dozens of people.
The forces opened fire at crowds in November and December of 1956, in Budapest and in the northern town of Salgotarjan, where 46 men, women and children were shot dead, according to investigators.
Biszku, who may face life imprisonment, has denied wrongdoing.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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