Abbé Franz Stock - Biography of Life
"Abbé Franz Stock – that is no name, it is a program!“ Nuntius Roncalli, who became later Pope John XXIII. said this on February 28, 1948, when carrying out consecration of the deceased. During July 1962 he repeated these words in front of an international pilgrim group. “...the priest Franz Stock, we said so on the day of his funeral, when bestowing absolutio ad tumbam – this is not only a name – it is a program. Now after fourteen years have passed, we do wish to repeat the very same words.“
Joseph Folliet, one of the magnificent men of the French spiritual life during the fifties and sixties said about him: "There are, I believe, only a few christian life stories which have given to the Catholicism of the church and peace of Christ such a direct and lasting effect and rendered such a surviving testimony for the future, like the one of Franz Stock.”
As minister of the prisons of Paris and the execution site at the Mont Valérien, during the time of the occupation, he has become part of history. Frenchmen gave him the designation "L'Aumonier en enfer – The minister in hell“ and "L'Archange de enfer – The archangel in hell.”
From 1945 onwards till 1947 he was managing director of the POW seminary behind barbed wire of Chartres. On June 15/16 1963 his mortal remains were transferred to Chartres and since that time he has been resting in the shadow of the famous cathedral, which most luminiously of all cathedrals in Europe signifies the transcendence of human beings. Pope John Paul II. during his visit to Germany, November 18, 1981, in Fulda, mentioned the name Franz Stock along with the names of grand saints of the German history.
On 1st March, 1998, the commemoration of the anniversary for his 50th day of death was held in the cathedral of Chartres. The archbishop of Paris, cardinal Lustiger, celebrated in the presence of many French and German bishops the pontifical divine service, with the attendance of Monsieur Monory, President of the French Senate and also Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who beforehand had laid down a wreath on the grave of Stock.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Stock’s passing the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Prime Minister of Northrine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rüttgers, as well as members of the Résistance, commemorated at the memorial of Franz Stock on Mont Valérien.
Short Biography of Life
Franz Stock is born as the first of nine children of a worker family in Neheim.
1910 - 1913
Visit of the catholic elementary school. His schoolmates noticed nothing particular about him. He belonged to the average and hardly distinquished himself in some way. At the age of twelve he expressed for the first time his wish to become a priest.
1917 - 1923
Hence at the age of thirteen during Easter 1917 he entered the Neheim secondary school. During the entire time of his study he distinquished himself not much with specific achievements. He accomplished his matriculation Easter 1926.
1926 - 1932
Study of catholic theology.
Started to study in Paderborn at the philosophic-theological academy.
Participated 1926 at the international peace meeting in Bierville near Paris, which had been organized by Marc Sagnier, a Frenchman, under the motto „Peace via the youths!“ Makes the acquaintance of Joseph Folliet, who greatly influenced him. Goes Easter 1928 for three terms to Paries and studies at the Institut Catholique. Since the middle ages he is the first German student of theology in France. Becomes a member of "Compagnons de Saint Francois – the fellowman of saint Francis“whose ideal was plain life and the realization of peace.
During the consecutive years he is present during international meetings, so 1931 on the Borberg near Brilon.
Subdeacon ordination. Before the ordination spiritual exercies he wrote to his parents: "... During these days I’m doing the decisive step with the subdeacon ordination to the priesthood. I am conscious of all my weakness, but I have great trust in the one, who is strengthening us and I will do everything in my power, to be worthy of him. There is a rule of the divine providence in my total development, commencing the day when I thought for the first time to become a priest until this date."
Ordination of a priest by the archbishop of Paderborn Dr. Kaspar Klein. On the leaflet for his first holy mass there are written the words out of the 1st letter of St. Peter: "Sanctify your soul by obedience towards the truth for sincere brotherly love and do love each other from your heart. You have been truly reborn, not out of temporary but immortal seed but by means of God’s word, which is living and eternal."
First activity as priest in Effeln near Lippstadt and in Dortmund-Eving.
Appointed as rector of the German Bonifatius-parish in Paris. He lives in the Rue Lhomond 21/32 near the Quartier Latin.
Outbreak of the 2nd World War. A few days ahead a hasty return of Stock to Germany. Activity as priest in Dortmund-Bodelschwingh and in Klein-Wanzleben in central Germany.
13. 08. 1940
Renewed nomination as priest for Germans living in Paris. Returns in October to Paris.
Beginning of his work in the prisons of Paris Fresnes, La Santé and Cherche-Midi.
10. 06. 1941
Official acknowledgment as priest for the military post as subsidiary office. He has to care for the prisoners in the jails and the act of getting ready those sentenced to death. The jails of Paris during 1941 – 1944 held approximately 11000 prisoners.
Executions were carried out on the Mont Valérien. The diary of Stock, in which he made brief notes about the prisoners and those sentenced to death is becoming a distressing document. He mentions 863 executions! He himself, however, has mentioned, that the shootings for which he had to attend is a four figure number and not the lowest one. He himself had expressed to a person well known to him shortly before his end of life that there were more than 2000. The memorial plate on the Mont Valerien indicates a number of more than 4500.
25. 08. 1944
Entry of de Gaulle in Paris. Abbé Stock is in the Hospital la Pitié, where more than 600 wounded German soldiers together with 200 English and American soldiers are lying, who are not fit for transport.
When the Americans took into command the hospital Abbé Franz Stock becomes an American Prisoner of War and gets assigned the prisoner number US/PWIB/31 G/820 274.
The Aumônerie Général in Paris contacted Abbé Franz Stock, who at that time was in the huge Prisoner of War Camp of Cherbourg. It was planned to set up a seminary for captured catholic students of theology. It was scheduled to further their aim to attain priesthood and to give them a chance, to become an element of catholic renewal of Germany.
Shortly thereafter Abbé Stock was asked to head this seminary as managing director. The POW Camp Dépôt 51 in Orlean was intended for it.
24. 04. 1945
Abbé Le Meur accompanies Abbé Stock to Orleans , where there were already 28 students of theology awaiting them.
17. 08. 1945
The prisoner seminary is moved to the POW Camp Dépôt 501 near Chartres.
Colonel Gourut places 160 seminarists under the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Chartres.
19. 08. 1945
Already two days later Msgr. Harscouet, bishop of Chartres, accompanied by his secretary Abbé Pierre André, pays a visit to the seminary. Later he visited the camp repeatedly and addressed the seminarists always with "Mes Chers enfants – my dear children“.
18. 09. 1945
The later pope John XXIII., Nuncio Roncalli, arrives for a longer visit at the camp.
16. 05. 1946
The nuncio visits the seminary once more. On the Sunday after Christmas the papal nuncio appears again to convey benediction of the Holy Father. During this visit he emphasizes: “The seminary of Chartres is praiseworthy for both countries, France as well as Germany. It is very well suitable to become a sign of understanding and reconciliation."
05. 04. 1947
On Easter Saturday the apostolic nuncio celebrates with the seminarists the liturgy of Easter Saturday and consecrates two deacons of the diocese Rottenburg to priests. In his address he said: „Here you have learnt the rule of Providence. Christ yesterday, today and in eternity. Peace, freedom and love – they will be the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
26. 04. 1947
Managing director Stock addressed the seminarists of the POW seminary of Chartres at the 2nd year’s anniversary of the foundation of the seminary a message, which preacher Abbé Jean Pihan on Stock’s 20th day of death denominated as prophetic: “… One of the divine supervision desired number of holy men will suffice, to rescue our epoch. It is the Providence, which hurls towards us this call for holiness by the voice of the history, and we must hear it, to bring to the world the message of freedom and peace, salvation and love…”
14. 05. 1947
Cardinal Suhard of Paris visits the seminary.
05. 06. 1947
The seminary for German students of theology, captured during the war, was closed. 949 lecturers, priests, brothers and seminarists had been at the seminary. During the evacuation only 369 were still left
24. 02. 1948
All of a sudden and unexpectedly he dies, hardly 44 years old, towards 16:00 hours in the hospital Cochin in Paris.
28. 02. 1948
Obsequies in the church Saint Jaques du Haut-Pas in Paris. Nuncio Roncalli himself carries out the consecration of the dead. Miserable and pitiful burial and– just about 12 people give him the last escort – at the cemetary Thiais.
Commemoration Ceremonies after Abbé Stock’s dead
First public commemoration ceremony for Franz Stock at the cathedral for disabled in Paris. So far, no German had ever been honored here. He was supposed to be the first one.
Consecration of the new gravestone by cardinal archbishop of Paris, Mgsr. Feltin. Father Riquet, cathedral preacher of Notre Dame in Paris said in his address: "It is paradox, that a German priest, in the middle of the war has acted as servant and friend of those people who were considered to be the worst enemies of his government. The families of the imprisoned and those shot to death donate the gravestone for Abbé Stock with the inscription “PAX”.
Official consecration of the new grave on the cemetary Thiais in Paris by the archbishop of Paris, cardinal Feltin.
Meeting of Adenauer and de Gaulle in the cathedreal of Reims, to seal the German-French reconciliation. During the meeting they prepare the German-French friendship contract.
13. 06. 1963
Exhumation of the body of Stock on the cemetary of Thiais.
14. 06. 1963
The French National Council approves the German-French friendship contract, oftenly also named as Elysee Contract, which had been signed by Adenauer and de Gaulle on February 22, 1963.
15./16. 06. 1963
The corpse of Abbé Stock was moved from Paris to Chartres to the newly built church Saint Jean Baptiste. Pope John XXIII., on his deathbed, signs a cable for this commemoration. The papal benediction from the Vatican bears the signature of the death – like a legacy.
Consecration of the memorial in Arnsberg/Neheim
A memorial plate is fastened on house 23 in the Rue Lhomond in Paris, where Stock lived from 1934 until 1944.
Naming „Place de l’Abbé Franz Stock“ in Suresnes/Paris on the Mont Valérien in front of the Mémorial de la France combattante, i.e. the execution site during the German occupation between 1940 and 1944.
13. 06. 1993
30 years after the corpse had been moved the petition addressed to the church to pronounce Abbé Stock as blessed was delivered in French and German language during the pontifical mass in the cathedral of Chartres.
Commemoration at the 50th anniversary of the day of death for Abbé Stock in Paris. A French postage stamp is issued.
Between February 22 and 28, 1998 there had been festivities in Paris at the 50th anniversary of the day of death of Abbé Franz Stock. Climax of these festivities is on March 1, 1998 with a pontifical mass in the cathedral of Chartres, which will be celebrated by the archbishop of Paris, cardinal Lustiger together with bishop Lehman, the chairman of the German bishops‘ conference and archbishop Degenhardt from Paderborn. Dr. Helmut Kohl, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany along with Monsieur Monory, president of the senate and consequently the 2nd man in the French Republic, will participate in this worship. Before this the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany laid down a wreath on the grave of Abbé Stock in the church St. Jean Baptist. Together we, Germans and Frenchmen, are responsible for the common future before human beings and before God.” (extract from the sermon of cardinal Lustiger).
Commemoration in Arnsberg/Neheim during the German/French cultural week.
60th anniversary of the official confirmation of Franz Stock as minister of the prisons, commemoration at Mont Valérein and the church Notre Dame de la Paix of Suresnes under the patronage of Madame Nicole Fontaine, President of the European Parliament.
Sept. 24, 2004
A Pontifical mass on the 100th birthday of Franz Stock with Bishop Aubertin of Chartres and Suffragan Bishop Dr. Wiesemann of Paderborn in the church St. john the Baptist was broadcasted on TV (ZDF).
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Stock’s passing, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the Prime Minister of Northrhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rüttgers as well as members of the Résistance commemorated at the memorial of Franz Stock on Mont Valérien. One day later, a Pontifical Mass took place in the Cathedral of Chartres, celebrated by Bishop Michel Pansard, the Apostolic Nuntio in France Fortunato Bardelli and the Archbishop of Paderborn, Hans-Josef Becker.
Nov. 14, 2009
Procedure of Beatification