Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, 1898-1960
Born to a peasant family in Brezani, Croatia, in 1898, Aloysius Stepinac had an interest in the priesthood. However, World War I put his goals on hold. He was sent to the Italian front, where he received two medals for bravery. By the end of the war, Croatia was one of six states incorporated into the nation of Yugoslavia.
Stepinac began studying for the priesthood and was ordained. Pope Pius XI appointed him as the Archbishop of Zagreb. Throughout the 1930s, when German Jews and communists were being persecuted, Archbishop Stepinac hid them from the Nazis.
When Croatia briefly became independent from Yugoslavia in 1941, he spoke out against the persecution of the Gypsies and massacre of the Serbs in Glina. He was one of the few leaders in Europe who raised his voice against the Nazi tyranny at a time when it was very difficult and dangerous for him to do so.
Shortly after the end of World War II, during the new pro-communist regime of Marshal Tito, Stepinac was sentenced to sixteen years in prison. He was released after five years on the orders of Tito, who wished to meet him. At their meeting, Stepinac told Tito, “Allow me to tell you that I am for the freedom of the people and accordingly I will raise my voice against you every time you should encroach on this freedom.”
Saint Pope John Paul II beatified Stepinac in 1998.
Discuss: Tell about a time when you were afraid to stand up for what you knew was right.
Encourage the young people to find out more about Croatia. Be sure to share with them the following: