Josef Beran

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His Eminence
Josef Beran
Cardinal, Archbishop of Prague
Statue of Josef Beran.jpg
Statue of Cardinal Josef Beran in Prague.
Church Roman Catholic
Archdiocese Prague
Installed 1946
Term ended 17 May 1969
Predecessor Karel Kašpar
Successor František Tomášek
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in via Flaminia
Ordination 10 June 1911
Consecration 8 December 1946
by Saverio Ritter
Created Cardinal 22 February 1965
by Pope Paul VI
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1888-12-29)December 29, 1888
Plzeň, Bohemia
Died May 17, 1969(1969-05-17) (aged 80)
Rome, Italy
Buried St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Nationality Czech
Motto Eucharistia et labor ("Eucharist and labor")
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God
Styles of
Josef Beran
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Prague

Josef Beran (December 29, 1888 – May 17, 1969) was a Czech Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Prague from 1946 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1965.


Josef Beran was born in Plzeň, the son of a schoolteacher, and studied at the seminary there and at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. Ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1911, he then did pastoral work in Pilsen until 1932. Beran was made the spiritual director of the Prague seminary and a professor at Charles University in 1932, and raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on June 11, 1936. Arrested by the Gestapo on June 6, 1940, Beran was later imprisoned in Pankrác, Theresienstadt (alongside Štěpán Trochta), and the Dachau concentration camp.

On November 4, 1946, he was appointed Archbishop of Prague and thus leader of the Church in Czechoslovakia by Pope Pius XII. Beran received his episcopal consecration on the following December 8 from Archbishop Saverio Ritter, with Bishops Maurice Picha and Anton Eltschkner serving as co-consecrators.

On the election of Klement Gottwald, Stalinist president of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Archbishop Beran had a Te Deum sung for the new president in Prague Cathedral. Following the rise of the Communist regime of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Beran however prohibited his clergy from taking an oath of loyalty to the new regime (viewing such an action as a "treason to the Christian faith"[1]), and publicly protested the seizure of Church property[2] and infringement of religious freedom.[3]

He declared: "The Catholic Church should enjoy the absolute freedom to which it has a right, both God-given and guaranteed by the existing Constitution."[4] He condemned as schismatic the Communist government-approved Czech Catholic Action.[5]

In June 1949 Beran was placed under house arrest, and complained of being "deprived of all personal freedom and all rights as the archbishop".[6] He was convicted in a show trial.[7] He later willingly re-entered imprisonment, this time in Mukařov and Radvanov by the Communists from 1949 to 1963.

The Czech primate was impeded from exercising his episcopal ministry upon his release. He offered his resignation to the Pope repeatedly, but was always refused. Eventually he went to live in Rome in February 1965 in exchange for governmental concessions to the Church.[8] Pope Paul VI created him Cardinal Priest of Santa Croce in Via Flaminia in the consistory on February 22.

Also in 1965, Cardinal Beran participated in the last session of the Second Vatican Council. During the Council's discussion on its document Dignitatis humanae, he suggested that expiation for past attacks on religious liberty was a possible cause of the Church's modern suffering.[9]

The cardinal died from lung cancer[3] in Rome, at the age of 80. He is buried in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica. On April 2, 1998, the Archdiocese of Prague opened his beatification process.


  1. ^ TIME Magazine. Transition October 24, 1949
  2. ^ TIME Magazine. Freedom for a Fighter October 11, 1963
  3. ^ a b TIME Magazine. Milestones May 23, 1969
  4. ^ TIME Magazine. "A Positive Attitude" May 30, 1949
  5. ^ TIME Magazine. Hour of Trial July 4, 1949
  6. ^ TIME Magazine. Legal Actions? August 29, 1949
  7. ^ JSTOR
  8. ^ TIME Magazine. Tremors of Change March 29, 1968
  9. ^ TIME Magazine. A Blow for Liberty October 1, 1965

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Karel Kašpar
Archbishop of Prague
Succeeded by
František Tomášek