Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca

In the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis by which Fr. Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig, C.M.M., missionary of Mariannhill and martyr of Charity in the Dachau concentration camp, was declared Blessed it is stated: “His feast is able to be celebrated every year in the places and ways established by law on the second day of March, the day on which he went up to heaven”.
On March 2nd the Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.
The celebration, presided over by the diocesan Bishop Mgr. Carlos López Hernández, took place on the eve of that day in the church of the Parish of Our Lady of Fatima [Salamanca].
At the very beginning of the celebration the Bishop blessed a polychrome carving of Blessed Engelmar. The carving was made eight years ago in the Czech Republic and was recently painted by an artist from Salamanca, Mr. Francisco Orejudo Alonso.
The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.
After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it. Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.
Then the intercession of Blessed Engelmar was invoked in the opening prayer of his Mass, which reads: “Almighty and eternal God, you gave the martyr Blessed Engelmar the grace to give witness to your merciful love in the midst of the cruelty of imprisonment. Through his intercession give us, too, the strength to love our sisters and brothers with dedication and serve them full of mercy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.
The biblical readings proclaimed in the celebration were those of the Mass of the new Blessed. The first reading was taken from the Book of Wisdom [3: 1-9]. As a responsorial psalm a few verses of Psalm 27 were sung. The second reading was taken from the First Letter of St. Peter [3: 14-17]. As Gospel the end of the Gospel of Matthew [28: 16-20], which contains the missionary mandate of the Lord to his disciples, was proclaimed.
In his homily the Bishop, besides taking a tour through the most important milestones in the life of the new Blessed, pointed out how in the midst of the hell of the Dachau concentration camp Blessed martyr Engelmar behaved like an angel. He advised the newcomers, encouraged the weak, comforted the desperate, shared his food with those who had nothing, begged to help the most disadvantaged, spoke of God, taught the catechism, etc. That was how, even as a prisoner, he became a good Mariannhill Missionary. He also indicated how in the life of Blessed Engelmar the disconcerting logic of the paschal mystery of Christ was fulfilled, i.e. whoever gives up his life out of love wins it forever.
The very surname of the new Blessed – Unzeitig – refers to the disconcerting nature of the paschal logic. Unzeitig in German means something that happens out of time, which happens in the off-time. Applied, for example, to agricultural products it would refer to immature fruits, not complete, not having achieved the degree of expected ripening. Is it not true in the light of the evangelical and paschal logic that what the world usually judges as immature and untimely is regarded by God as the most propitious and opportune?
In the prayers of the faithful several petitions were addressed to God, taking Blessed Engelmar as intercessor. They were [1] that, in commemorating Blessed Engelmar’s love for God, we feel impelled to make our life more religious; [2] that, in commemorating the missionary zeal of Blessed Engelmar, we be urged to keep apostolic zeal alive in ourselves; [3] that in commemorating the generosity of Blessed Engelmar to those most in need, we be encouraged to follow his example; [4] that, in commemorating the patience of Blessed Engelmar in adversity, we may find ourselves comforted in the hour of trial; and [5] that, in commemorating the sacrifice of the young life of Blessed Engelmar, we be taught to respond to our personal vocation.
At the moment of the offertory, together with the Eucharistic bread and wine, three especially eloquent symbols referring to Blessed Engelmar were brought up; a heart, a loaf of bread and a piece of barbed wire. The heart symbolized the unconditional love with which Blessed Engelmar did all things and which earned him the title of Angel of Dachau. The loaf of bread made reference to the giving away of his life and his things, which earned him the title of Missionary of Mercy. The barbed wire symbolized the unconditional sacrifice of Blessed Engelmar in favor of the sick and dying, the neediest of all, gaining for him the merit to be invoked with the title of Martyr of Charity.
At the end of the celebration Fr Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., Regional Superior of Mariannhill in Spain, thanked everyone present for attending this moving Eucharistic celebration. He recalled that the saints and blessed are oases of peace that God puts in the midst of the deserts of our life, so that we can rest and regain strength in order to continue the pilgrimage of existence. From Blessed Engelmar – he continued – we can learn at least three things: [1] God does not move away from us even when we go through difficulties. Therefore in the midst of such situations we must not go away from God. [2] We must be faithful to the commitments made in baptism and to those we have accepted later in life. [3] We can be evangelizers and missionaries even if it seems that the circumstances in which we now find ourselves are not the most propitious for this. He ended by inviting everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.
So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M.

PHOTOS: CARMEN BORREGO MUÑOZ [SALAMANCA/SPAIN] [1] 2nd March 2017: Celebration of the Liturgical Memory of Blessed Engelmar in Salamanca.

[2] The Mariannhill Missionaries in Spain invited their friends, benefactors and acquaintances, as well as the diocesan community of Salamanca, to join them in the first celebration of the liturgical memorial of Blessed Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig.

[3] The carved statue depicts Blessed Engelmar dressed in the typical costume of the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps; trousers and striped jacket. Underneath his jacket he reveals the religious habit of Mariannhill. He holds a loaf of bread in his hands. Thus described, the statue perfectly represents the physiognomy of the new Blessed: a prisoner in a concentration camp, a missionary within the barbed wire of his imprisonment, and an angel of charity in the midst of the Dachau hell.

[4] After the blessing of the statue the Bishop sprinkled it with holy water and incensed it.

[5] Then four young Mariannhill missionaries placed red floral arrangements around the blessed image.

[6] So this first celebration of the liturgical memory of Blessed Engelmar ended with great peace in the heart of those attending and with a serene desire to imitate his life.

[7] At the end of the celebration the Regional Superior invited everyone to pray to Blessed Engelmar before his statue that will be exposed to the veneration of the faithful in the chapel of the house of Mariannhill in Salamanca.