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Father Rupert Mayer (1876-1945)

Blessed Rupert Mayer (23 January 1876 – 1 November 1945) was a Jesuit priest and a leading figure of the Catholic resistance in the Third Reich in Munich. In 1987 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.



Born in Stuttgart, Rupert Mayer studied philosophy and theology in Freiburg, Munich and Tübingen. He was, among other things, a member of A.V. Guestfalia Tübingen and K.D.St.V. Aenania München, two Studentenverbindungen that belong to the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen. In 1899, he was ordained a priest and joined the Society of Jesus in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg, Austria (then Austria-Hungary) in 1900. From 1906, he moved about Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands as a People's Commissioner. From 1914, he was a chaplain at the front in the First World War. In 1916, he lost his left leg after it was injured in a grenade attack. He was the first chaplain to win the Iron Cross. He worked managing a clerical retreat, as a preacher, and as of 1921 as a leader of the Marian Congregation in Munich. In 1937, he found himself in "protective custody" for six months, and for seven months after that, he was in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was released from there on the condition of a broad ban on preaching. Until the liberation by the US forces in May 1945, he lived Ettal Abbey. An American Officer returned him to Munich, where he received a hero's welcome.

He died on his feet on 1 November 1945 of a stroke, while he was celebrating Mass, in Munich. Facing the congregation, THE LORD THE LORD THE LORD. These were his last words.

Accompanied by thousands of mourners, Rupert Mayer was first buried at the Jesuitenfriedhof in Pullach. Due to the steady stream of pilgrims, his remains were moved to Munich in 1948 and were reburied in the Unterkirche of the Bürgersaalkirche, where his continued popularity as a Bavarian hero and intercessor is documented.

Protest against the Nazis

Part of a series of articles on
20th Century
Persecutions of the
Catholic Church


Cristero War  · Iniquis Afflictisque
Saints  · José Sánchez del Río
Persecution in Mexico  · Miguel Pro

498 Spanish Martyrs
Red Terror (Spain) · Dilectissima Nobis
Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War
Martyrs of Daimiel
Bartolome Blanco Marquez
Innocencio of Mary Immaculate


Mit brennender Sorge  · Alfred Delp
Alois Grimm · Rupert Mayer
Bernhard Lichtenberg · Max Josef Metzger
Karl Leisner  · Maximilian Kolbe

Persecution in China · Ad Sinarum Gentem ·
Cupimus Imprimis  · Ad Apostolorum Principis
Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei · Beda Chang
Dominic Tang
Stefan Wyszyński
108 Martyrs of World War Two · Policies
Poloniae Annalibus  · Gloriosam Reginam
Invicti Athletae · Jerzy Popiełuszko

Eastern Europe
Jozsef Mindszenty  · Eugene Bossilkov
Josef Beran  · Aloysius Stepinac
Meminisse Juvat  · Anni Sacri

El Salvador

Maura Clarke  · Ignacio Ellacuría
Ita Ford  · Rutilio Grande
Dorothy Kazel  · Ignacio Martín-Baró
Segundo Montes  · Óscar Romero


Persecution of Christians
Church persecutions 1939-1958
Vatican and Eastern Europe
Vatican USSR policies

Eastern Catholic persecutions
Terrible Triangle
Conspiracy of Silence (Church persecutions)

Rupert Mayer spoke out against anti-Catholic baiting campaigns and fought against Nazi church policy. He preached that man must obey God more than men. His protests against the Nazis landed him several times in Landsberg prison and in Sachsenhausen concentration camp under the Kanzelparagraphen, a series of 19th-century laws that forbade the clergy to make political statements from their pulpits. From late 1940, he was interned in Ettal Monastery, mainly because the Nazis were afraid that he would die in the concentration camp, and thereby become a martyr.

Rupert Mayer resolutely spoke out against the Nazi régime's evil in his lectures and sermons. Before the Sondergericht – one of Adolf Hitler's "special courts" – he declared "Despite the speaking ban imposed on me, I shall preach further, even if the state authorities deem my pulpit speeches to be punishable acts and a misuse of the pulpit."

His time in prison and the concentration camp had taken its toll, as had the enforced inactivity while under house arrest at Ettal.

Rupert Mayer's legacy and honours

Since his death in 1945, Rupert Mayer's followers called for his beatification. In 1950, Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber opened the information process in the diocese of Munich regarding the call to sanctity and virtues. In 1951, Jesuit provincial Otto Faller completed and formally forwarded the beatification information to Rome.

In 1956, Pope Pius XII, who had personally known Father Rupert Mayer during his time as Papal nuncio in Munich, awarded him the title Servant of God. Under Pope John XXIII, the beatification process was initiated, the results of which were formally accepted by Pope Paul VI in 1971. Under Pope John Paul II, the decree of 'heroic virtue' was issued in 1983. Rupert Mayer was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 3 May 1987 in Munich.

Father Mayer's grave was visited by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, whose parents had venerated him. Many faithful hope for his canonization, which requires a miracle to be accepted by Vatican authorities. In the meantime, people from all walks of life, visit the church in the centre of Munich every day, packed with their shopping bags, children, dogs and, their problems, asking for his intercession, or for a small moment of rest at his side.

In Bavaria, numerous streets are named after Ruper Mayer. In 1954, the Cartell Rupert Mayer (CRM) was founded. It was a further development of the first Christliche Loge (CL) founded in Munich in 1946. The mediaeval Dombauhütten Logen may be considered its forerunner. Furthermore, in Pullach, Bavaria, a public school, a Realschule and a Gymnasium bear his name. Also a school located in Cebu City; Sacred Heart School-Jesuit, has a section named after him. Another Jesuit school in the Philippines; Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, also has a high schoolsection that bears his name. Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado dedicated the chapel to him.

In 2006 Fordham University dedicated a chapel in his name at their Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan, New York.

Prayer of Rupert Mayer

The following text come from the song produced by Bukas Palad Ministry:

Lord, what You will let it be so
Where You will there we will go
What is Your will help us to know

Lord, when You will the time is right
In You there's joy in strife
For Your will I'll give my life

To ease Your burden brings no pain
To forego all for You is gain
As long as I in You remain

Because You will it, it is best
Because You will it, we are blest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest
Till in Your hands our hearts find rest

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