Frederick Bachstein


The Servants of God Frederick Bachstein and Companions, Martyrs, First Order

Emperor Rudolph II founded a convent in Prague in the year 1607. It was called St. Mary of the Snow, and committed to the care of the Franciscans, in the hope, as the legal document states, that, true to the tradition of their forebears, they would oppose with zeal and power the rapidly growing spirit of immorality and indifference to God in Bohemia and would lead the erring back to the right path.

The godly friars began at once by word and deed and by their writing to preach Catholic truth and to refute heresy. In a short time, they effected many extraordinary conversions. The Hussites and Calvinists looked with bitter hatred at the flourishing convent and its blessed activities. They waited impatiently for a suitable opportunity to rid themselves forcibly of the entire community of Franciscans.

On February 13, 1611, when Archduke Matthias and his troops encamped before Prague, a group of conspirators recognized that the long-awaited opportune moment had come. The inmates of the convent of St. Mary of the Snow themselves sensed the evil that was threatening them and prepared themselves for death by prayer and the penitent reception of the holy sacraments. On the morning of February 15, an enraged mob, armed with every sort of deadly weapon, stormed into the church and began their work of destruction and massacre. The marauders pulled down the crucifixes and holy images, robbed the church of its sacred vessels and vestments, and demolished the altars.

The Servants of God Frederick Bachstein and Companions


The first Franciscan whom they met was Father John Martinez, a Spaniard, who was attempting to save the Blessed Sacrament. With one fell blow they struck off his hand, which fell to the floor together with the ciborium, and the sacred Species were scattered all about the church. Amid horrible blasphemies, the Calvinists trampled on them, and when Father John tried to ward them off, they split his head with a sword. Then the furious mob forced their way into the convent and murdered all who were in it at the time, fourteen in all, including Father John.

They thrust a dagger into the heart of the superior, Father Frederick. Father Simon they struck down with clubs and then stabbed him with daggers and swords. With cudgels they broke every bone in the body of Father Bartholomew of Bergamo, confessor of the Italians. Jerome of Milan, a deacon, was run through with a long sword as he knelt before an image of the Mother of God. The head of Clement, a student in minor orders, was hacked open with a hatchet. Even the aged Brother Christopher was slain with their battle axes. Jasper of Varese, a subdeacon, and James of Augsburg, in minor orders, as well as the lay brother Didacus, were driven into the tower of the church amid blows from the butt of a gun and jabs from their dirks. From there they were forced onto the roof, where, amid the wild cheers of the mob, they were shot down. They stabbed the novice John of Germany, the lay brother John of Pisa, and the Brothers Emmanuel and Anthony, with swords and halberds till their bodies were hacked and torn to pieces.

The horrible massacre lasted over three hours. On the third day, when the rabble had gradually dispersed, devout Catholics ventured to wrap the precious remains in canvas and buried them secretly in the transept. Five years later they were exhumed and found wholly incorrupt, their wounds still bleeding and fresh. They were placed in the chapel of St. Michael the Archangel, where they repose to this very day, glorified by many miracles and highly honored by the people. The cause of the beatification of these fourteen servants of God has been introduced in Rome.

Consider how carefully we must guard against being infected with erroneous ideas, especially since we live among people of all faiths and no faith. A mind addicted to fault finding readily seizes on things it has heard against the faith or begins to waver in the faith, especially in the case of matters opposed to sensuality or to pride. Yet to depart even from a single teaching of the Catholic Church is to lose the faith and incur the judgment of God. Neither is it of much use to let yourself be involved in a religious argument. Not seldom it only leads to loss of temper and rash assertions, and the other side does not profit from it in any case, for faith is not acquired by disputing about it, but only by childlike submission to the authority of the Catholic Church, the “pillar and ground of truth.” (1 Tim. 3,15) St. Peter and the apostles were sent by Christ to teach the nations, and whoever wishes to acqire a knowledge of the true Faith, must pay heed to what they taught. So that, if you meet anyone who is really seeking information, introduce him to some priest as a representative of the apostles.

Consider, however, that non-Catholics are not to be cut off from our charity, as Christ Himself teaches in the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan. We must assist them too, should they be in need. In our business and social dealings with them, we should be courteous and friendly, respect them as is proper, and avoid all bitterness toward them. In that way, we shall give them the best possible idea of the true Faith. By the fruit they see in us, they will recognize it as a good tree. Finally, following the example of the Holy Church, we should pray for non-Catholics, for there are many who are laboring under delusions through no fault of their own.

Prayer of the Church

Almighty and eternal God, who savest all and willest none to perish, look on the souls that are seduced by the deceit of the devil, that the hearts of those who err, having laid aside all heretical malice, may repent and return to the unity of Thy truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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