Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty

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Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty (1892 - 1975) was a Hungarian Catholic persecuted and imprisoned first by the Nazis and then by the Communists based on his faith. Today his legacy is carried on by the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation.

Mindszenty was ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of the Sacred heart of Jesus on June 12, 1915 and, after serving faithfully for almost thirty years, was consecrated Bishop of Veszprem on March 25, 1944. From November 27, 1944 to April 20, 1945, he was imprisoned by the Nazis.

On October 2, 1945, Pope Pius XII appointed him Archbishop of Esztergom and Primate of Hungary. Just a few months later, on February 18, 1946, the Pope raised him to the Cardinalate. As Pope Pius XII placed the Cardinal's hat on his head, the Pope said: "Among the thirty-two, you will be the first to suffer the martyrdom whose symbol this red color is."[1]

In 1948 the Communists in Hungary banned religious orders. On December 26, 1948, Archbishop Mindszenty was arrested and charged with treason, conspiracy, and other offenses.

His trial began on February 3, 1949, and five days later he was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason against the communist Hungarian government.

On February 12, 1949, Pope Pius XII announced the excommunication of all persons involved in the trial and conviction of Mindszenty.

During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the freedom fighters released Cardinal Mindszenty from jail, and when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to suppress it, he fled to the American embassy. Mindszenty then lived in captivity inside the embassy for 15 years, facing recapture should he ever step foot outside.

Upon the request of Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Mindszenty, then almost 80, was allowed to depart from his country of Hungary, still occupied by the Communists, on September 29, 1971. He settled in Vienna, Austria and died there at the age of 83 a few years later.

Today, Cardinal Mindszenty is buried in the Church of the Assumption, the Basilica of Esztergom, Hungary. Pilgrims visit there daily and pray for his intercession in their needs.