Recognized as Martyr for the Faith
Date for beatification to be set
(ANS – Vatican City) – On Wednesday, March 27, 2013, Pope Francis gave an audience to Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. During the audience the Supreme Pontiff authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decree of martyrdom for Servant of God Stephen Sandor, a professed brother in the Society of St. Francis de Sales; he was born at Szolnok, Hungary, on October 26, 1914, and put to death out of hatred for the Faith at Budapest on June 8, 1953.
[CNS reports that two other martyrs were recognized at the same time: Franciscan Father Giuseppe Girotti, an opponent of Italy's fascist government who died at Dachau in 1945, and Romanian Father Vladimir Ghika, killed by the Communists in 1954.]
Stephen Sandor came to know about Don Bosco through the Salesian Bulletin and immediately felt attracted to the Salesian charism. In 1936 he was accepted at the Clarisseum in Budapest, where he did a two-year aspirantate. He attended courses in printing technology at the Don Bosco Press. He began his novitiate but had to interrupt it when he was called to military service. In 1939 he was able to take up his novitiate again and eventually made his first profession on September 8, 1940 as a coadjutor brother.
He was assigned to the Clarisseum and was actively involved in vocational education. He was also an assistant at the youth center and promoted the Young Catholic Workers. At the end of World War II, he began working for the material and moral rebuilding of society, giving special attention to poor youth. His interest was in gathering them up and teaching them a trade.
In 1949 the Communist government under Matyas Rakosi, confiscated all ecclesiastical goods and began the persecution of Catholic schools. Bro. Sandor tried to save what could be saved. Almost overnight religious found themselves reduced to nothing and had to disband. Bro. Sandor had to leave his printing operations – which had gained recognition – and “disappear,” but instead of fleeing to the West he stayed in the country so he could keep working for Hungarian youth. He managed to find employment in a detergent factory in the capital, and fearlessly but clandestinely kept up his apostolate, while knowing that it was a strictly forbidden activity. In July 1952 he was taken into custody at his workplace and was never seen again by his confreres. An official document shows that he was condemned to death and hanged on June 8, 1953.
“Let us give thanks to God for this gift of the Church to the Salesian Family during the Year of Faith,” Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, postulator general for the Salesian Family, said. “The new martyr, Stephen Sandor, a Salesian brother, is a shining witness and intercessor who followed in Don Bosco's footsteps by offering the young the Gospel of joy through a pedagogy of kindness and by giving his own life. Let us be grateful to Pope Francis for this special gift at the beginning of his papal ministry.”
The decree of martyrdom will now be prepared by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes in collaboration with the postulator general. Following this, a date will be set for the beatification, given that a martyr does not need a miracle. His complete sacrifice in the act of martyrdom, as the highest testimony to the Christian Faith, is considered to be the supreme act in his “sequela Christi.”