Church takes first step to beatify Jesuit Adolf Kajpr

Adolf Kajpr, photo: Vojtech Novotny, CC BY-SA 4.0

 The Czech Jesuits have completed the first phase of the beatification of Adolf Kajpr, a priest and journalist who was imprisoned both by the Nazis and the Communists. The documents gathered to prove his beatification have been sent to Rome. The final decision will be issued by the pope.

Adolf Kajpr was born in 1902 into a very poor family and was orphaned at the age of four. As a child, he worked as a day labourer, and it was only in his mid-twenties that he enrolled in a Jesuit grammar school in Prague.

He went on to study philosophy in Egenhoven in Belgium and theology in Austria’s Innsbruck, where he was ordained in 1935. From 1937, he lived and worked at St Ignatius Church in Prague, where he served as a priest.

He also taught Christian philosophy at the Prague Archdiocese School of Theology, but his most influential activities were in the field of journalism, says journalist Pavel Hlavatý:

Adolf Kajpr,  photo: Public Domain

“He taught Christian philosophy and gained popularity as a preacher during the 1930s. He also worked as an editor and started to publish his own texts, at a time when Nazis had already gained power in Germany. So we could say that he grew up from the challenges of the era.”

In 1938 Kajpr recorded a series of regular spiritual lectures for Czechoslovak Radio. Unfortunately, none of them have been preserved.

His lectures and articles had a great influence not only on Roman Catholic churchgoers but also on the general public, says Mr. Hlavatý:

“He was an editor of four magazines, including one for Christian youth, called Dorost. He tried to highlight the spiritual values to help people face the disillusionment that came after the Munich Agreement.

“His texts published before the year 1941 addressed all kinds of issues, such as the lapses of the Church or the Nazi abuse of the image of Saint Wenceslas.”

Adolf Kajpr,  photo: Vojtech Novotny,  CC BY-SA 4.0

Kajpr’s articles and lectures brought him admiration and esteem but also hatred and persecution.

In 1941 he was arrested for writing articles attacking the Nazi regime. He was first imprisoned at Pankrác and Terezín before being transported to Mauthausen and Dachau, where he stayed until the end of the war.

In 1959, Kajpr was sentenced to 12 years for high treason in a Communist show trial. After nine years at Leopoldov, he died of a heart attack at the age of 57.

It was only in 1968, during the relatively liberal period leading to Prague Spring, that his remains were exhumed and buried in a Jesuit tomb at Prague’s Vyšehrad cemetery.

In September 2019 they were deposited in one of the chapels of St. Ignatius Church in Prague, where he first ministered. The ceremony also marked the start of his beatification process.

If it is confirmed by the Roman congregation and Pope Francis, Adolf Kajpr will become the first Czech beatified Jesuit.