Titus Zeman was a Salesian priest, born at Vajnory, near Bratislava, in 1915. On 30th September 2016, he became the first Slovakian Salesian to be beatified.
He attended a Salesian secondary school, and felt an early call to the priesthood, entering the novitiate in 1931, and making his perpetual profession in Rome in 1938. He was ordained priest in 1940, and celebrated his first Mass in his home town of Vajnory.
In the early 1950s, when religious orders were banned by the Communist government of Czechoslovakia, and many religious were being sent to concentration camps, Blessed Titus organised the escape of young Salesians to Turin, where they could continue their formation. Aware that he risked the death penalty for his actions, he said, “Even if I lose my life I do not consider it a waste, knowing that at least one of those whom I have saved has become a priest to take my place”.
Following his arrest in 1952, he was beaten and tortured, before being tried for treason. He was sentenced to 25 years of hard labour in the harshest of prisons. On his release after 13 years, his health was broken but his spirit was not. He died five years later, on 8th January 1969.
His memorial is celebrated on 8th January.
More information on the life and legacy of Bl Titus