Month of St. Joseph: Joseph’s Fidelity in the Flight to Egypt

March 19, 2020

Need I explain to you Joseph’s fidelity in guarding this sacred treasure? We must learn from him here that this treasure cannot be kept without suffering. When Jesus enters somewhere, He enters with His cross and shares it with all those He loves. Joseph and Mary were poor; but they were not yet homeless. As soon as this Child came into the world, there was no home to be found for them, and they took refuge in a stable.

But was this poverty not enough? Jesus left them no respite; He only came into this world to trouble them. Herod could not bear to let this Child live. Heaven itself betrayed the secret, revealing Jesus Christ with a star; and it would seem that it only brought Him adorers from afar in order to raise up a pitiless persecutor in His own land.

St. Joseph was forced to go to Egypt and to suffer exile, and why? Because he had Jesus Christ with him. But do you think he complained? Not at all, he considered himself fortunate to suffer in His company and the only source of displeasure for him was the danger for the divine Child who was dearer to him than himself.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, First Panegyric of St. Joseph

“Fidelissimus in tribulatione pastor, the most faithful pastor during the persecution,” reads the inscription in the Primatial Basilica of Esztergom, in the north of Hungary, on the tomb of Cardinal József Mindszenty (1892-1975).

A famous figure of the resistance against Communism, the former Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and primate of Hungary may soon be beatified. On February 13, 2019, Pope Francis recognized the cardinal’s “heroic virtues”. Ordained a priest in 1915, he was imprisoned in 1919 under the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of the sinister Béla Kun. After becoming bishop of Veszprém in 1944, he was once again imprisoned by the National Unity Government of the Arrow Cross Party, then released in 1945.

Nominated Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, the primatial see of Hungary, in 1945, Archbishop Mindszenty was made a cardinal by Pius XII in 1946. He founded parishes and organized pilgrimages—he celebrated the 250th anniversary of Máriapócs, the national Hungarian sanctuary, in the presence of 200,000 faithful.

The day after Christmas in 1948, he was arrested for “treason, conspiracy and disrespect of government rules” by the Communist regime. He was tortured for two months and signed forced confessions. In 1949, he was condemned to life in prison. Pius XII excommunicated all those involved in his trial and sentence.

Liberated during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he immediately dissolved the Priests for Peace movement that collaborated with the regime. After the Soviet intervention, he took refuge at the United States embassy, where he remained for 15 years as a political refugee. He led a life of prayer and silence. In 1971, he was able to leave Hungary for Austria. He died four years later, without having renounced his title of Primate of Hungary, even though an administrator, the future Cardinal Lekai, who supported the Priests for Peace, had been nominated in Budapest as part of an agreement between the Holy See and the government.

Cardinal Mindszenty was ultimately sacrificed to the Vatican’s Ostpolitik. He remains the symbol of the Hungarian Catholic resistance to Communism and the modal of a saintly bishop