VENERABLE FRANZ STOCK (1904-1948, Paris) was a German Roman Catholic priest who ministered to prisoners in France during World War II, and to German prisoners of war in the years following.
In the spring of 1928, Franz went to Paris where he spent three semesters studying at the Institut Catholique. During this period, he became a member of the Companions of St. Francis, a fellowship committed to living a simple life and working for peace. He was the first German student of theology in France since the Middle Ages.
Franz was ordained to the priesthood in 1932 by the Archbishop of Paderborn, Kaspar Klein, and from 1932 to 1934 had his first appointment as priest in Effeln, near Lippstadt, and in Dortmund-Eving. In 1934, he was appointed as rector of the German national parish of St. Boniface in Paris.
A few days before the outbreak of World War II (September 1,1939), he returned to Germany. In 1940, he was named as priest for Germans residing in Paris during Nazi Germany's occupation of France. Often, because of his German nationality, he was the only priest who could freely visit the prisoners without being a part of the Nazi war apparatus. He met with more than 2,000 prisoners. He was called "the archangel of the prisons".
As part of his pastoral mission, and with great peril to his life, he passed messages from the prisoners to their families and back, sometimes memorizing them. Exploiting every possible avenue to help the prisoners, he delivered German information on them to their families, so as to prepare them when interrogated. The information thus delivered prevented many arrests. He did this under a double threat to his life: besides the obvious peril of arrest, incarceration and/or execution if discovered, Father Stock suffered severe heart disease (a fact he kept from others) and thus had been ordered to rest. Nevertheless, he went on in his work.
|With Papal Nuncio Roncalli|
In spite of his care for American prisoners during the war, when the Americans took command of Paris, Father Stock became a prisoner of war and was sent to the POW camp of Cherbourg. This he accepted willingly, for it enabled him to help those who now needed most his services - the defeated German POWs. With the support of some French bishops, in Chartres and Orleans he began a “barbed-wire seminary” for all German seminarians held captive in France. On several occasions, the papal Nuncio Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, visited him and encouraged him in his work.
In 1947, Abbe Stock received notification of his appointment as honorary doctor of the University of Freiburg, in Freiburg im Breisgau, (the same University St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross taught at before her death at Auschwitz). Father died unnexpectedly in Paris. Since he was still considered a POW, very few people were made aware of his death at the time. His funeral was held four days later, at the Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas church in Paris, with Nuncio Roncalli. Only about 12 people accompanied his body to the cemetery of Thiais in Paris.
|His Tomb at Chartres|
of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Chartres.
In 1981, in Fulda, during his visit to Germany, Pope John Paul II mentioned the name of Abbe Franz Stock along with the names of great saints in German history.