'God has given us this cross, and he is giving us the strength to carry it'
The memorial of Polish Salesian martyrs Blesseds Francis Kesy, Edward Klinik, Jarog Wojciechowski, Czeslaw Jozwisk and Edward Kzmierski is celebrated on 12th June.
They attended the Salesian oratory in Poznan, Poland, and were involved in the youth work there. Following the Nazi occupation, Francis took a job in a factory, spending his free time at the oratory, and after the house was taken over by the Nazis as a barracks, the young people gathered in the woods, to continue their prayer and the work of the youth groups. In September 1940, these five young men were arrested, accused of belonging to an illegal organisation - the fear was that Catholic groups like these could form the basis of a resistance movement.
Following torture they were sentenced to hard labour, split up in different prisons for some of the time. They prayed the office daily, said the rosary and made novenas to Don Bosco and Mary Help of Christians. and remained strong and courageous in their faith, cheerfully supporting other prisoners and reassuring their families in notes smuggled out to them.
In 1942, they were returned to their home town, found guilty of high treason, and sentenced to death. They faced this with exemplary faith and courage. In his final letter, Francis wrote: 'My dearest parents, brothers and sisters, the time has come to say goodbye to you on August 24, the day of Mary Help of Christians ... May the Good Lord take me to himself. Don’t have regrets that I am leaving this world so young. I am now in a state of grace. ... I am going to heaven. There I shall pray to God ... Pray sometimes for me ... I’m going now.'
They were guillotined in a prison in Dresden on 24th August 1942. At the time of their deaths, they were aged 19 - 23.
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