Dutch Carmelite who spent time in Dublin and Cork to be canonised in May

Titus Brandsma arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Dachau where he was killed six months later, aged 61

A Dutch Carmelite friar who visited Ireland in 1935 and later died by lethal injection in Dachau concentration camp is to be canonised by Pope Francis next May.

Titus Brandsma stayed with his Irish Carmelite brothers at Whitefriar Street in Dublin and Kinsale, Co Cork ,as he improved his English ahead of a lecture tour in the United States.

He later wrote with warmth about his time in Ireland where he met, among others, then president of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State Éamon de Valera. Seven years after his time in Ireland he was killed by lethal injection at Dachau in 1942.

He came to the notice of Nazi authorities even before their occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 as he had written critically of National Socialism at the Dutch Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he was a professor, and in the press. Accused of being an ally of communism, he was dubbed by the Nazis as "the Dangerous Little Friar".


During the occupation of the Netherlands by the Nazis he actively opposed the publication of Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers and in the press generally. In his role as an adviser to the Archbishop of Utrecht he encouraged Dutch bishops to speak out strongly against the persecution of Jews and the infringement of basic human rights by Nazi occupiers.

In early 1942 he delivered a letter from the Catholic bishops to editors of Catholic newspapers in the Netherlands instructing them not to comply with a new law requiring they print Nazi advertisements and articles. He was arrested by the Gestapo at the Carmelite priory in Nijmegen and taken to Dachau, where he was killed six months later, aged 61.

Born in the Dutch province of Friesland in 1881, he joined the Carmelites in 1898, taking his father’s name, Titus, as his religious name.

Ordained in June 1905, as an academic he specialised in philosophy and mysticism, and helped found the Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1923, where he was later rector.

Beatified in 1985, he will be canonised at St Peter’s in Rome on May 15th.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times