Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Today on the Almanac, we remember Clemens August von Galen (with a shoutout to St. Urho).

*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 16th of March 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at; I’m Dan van Voorhis.

A very happy St. Urho’s Day to those who celebrate… if you do, I assume you are of Finnish heritage and probably live in those midwestern American cities that get about as cold as Finland.

Unfortunately, St. Urho is not real. He is an invention of an American Fin in the last century who is said to have created the saint when asked by an Irish friend why the Fins didn’t have a saint-like St. Patrick. St. Urho is said to have freed Finland from giant grasshoppers… there’s even a song.

Ooksi kooksi coolama vee
He really told those bugs of green.

Bravest Finn I ever seen

Some celebrate for St. Pat and his snakes.

But Urho poika got what it takes.

But in the realm of the real and historical, today we remember Bishop Clemens August von Galena, a German of aristocratic descent. He was born to Count Ferdinand and Elizabeth von Spee on the 16th of March in 1878.

He was the 11th of 13 children- and as we have seen, often the youngest children- and those who would not have much of an inheritance- were given to church work. Clemens August would study in Switzerland and back home in Germany before being ordained as a priest in the Catholic Church in 1904. He was called to Berlin, serving from 1906 to 1929.

Hmmm… what was happening in Germany between 1906 and 1929?

Von Galen was a German nationalist who saw the Germans as justified in World War 1, condemned the treaty of Versailles, which crippled the post-war German economy, and held to the antisemitic ‘Stabbed in the Back” theory (the same that would animate a young Adolf Hitler).

Clemens August was a Monarchist who despised the democratic reforms of the Weimar Republic. In the 1930s, he watched the rise of the NAZI party, if not enthusiastically, at least with some sense of relief.

And then Hitler began making his overtures against the church by creating his Reichskirche.

You may remember that the Catholic Church entered a short-lived and uneasy truce with the Nazis when the Catholic Church signed the Reichskonkordat. But von Galen was surprised to hear that the Reich wanted to remove all crucifixes from Catholic classrooms.

As an educated man, he was insulted when the Nazis promoted Alfred Rosenberg’s “The Myth of the Twentieth Century” (this would serve as part of the underpinning of the Nazi ideology of blood and soil).

As a Christian, he was appalled by the stories of forced Euthanasia amongst those deemed “unfit.” The one-time German Nationalist would become one of the editors of the secret Papal Encyclical “Mit Brennender Sorge.” This was the encyclical from Pope Pius XI condemning the Nazis- it was written in German and sent out by motorcycle couriers to be read from each Catholic parish.

Despite being known early in his career as an underwhelming preacher- he preached and printed four sermons in 1941 that threw the gauntlet down against the Gestapo, the loss of religious rights, and the state Euthanasia program.

The “Lion of Münster,” as he would be known, was so famous that Goebbels and Hitler discussed him by name and decided killing him would cause too much backlash. They acknowledged that the euthanasia program would have to proceed secretly as von Galen had marshaled public opinion against it. Goebbels stated that von Galen would be executed following the war.

The four sermons from 1941 would be copied and shared underground. The “White Rose” members, including Sophie Scholl, would read and copy these sermons. The British Royal Air Force made copies of the sermons and dropped them as leaflets across Germany during the war.

Clemens August von Galen would be made a Cardinal after the war, partly because of his heroics resisting the Nazis. He received the red hat in February of 1946 but succumbed to an infection in his appendix one month later, on March 22nd, 1946. Born on this day, the 16th of March in 1878, Clemens August von Galen was 68 years old.

The Last word for today comes from 1 Peter 2

2 Therefore, get rid of all ill will and all deceit, pretense, envy, and slander. 2 Instead, like a newborn baby, desire the pure milk of the word. Nourished by it, you will grow into salvation, three since you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4 Now you are coming to him as to a living stone. Even though this stone was rejected by humans, from God’s perspective it is chosen, valuable. 5 You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 16th of March 2022 brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by a man of whom it is said:

He got strong and tall from viili sour

And ate kalamojakka (fish soup) every hour

That's why that guy could chase those beetles.

What grew as thick as jack pine needles

He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who has emblazoned on his family crest the motto: Ooksi kooksi coolama vee. I’m Dan van Voorhis

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.

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