Monday, March 20, 2017



 BLESSED MARCEL CALLO was born on December 6, 1921, in Rennes, France, into a family of farmers. He was one of nine children. After completing his primary studies, he became an apprentice to a printer around age 13. He did not like associating with fellow workers who swore and told many improper stories. He preferred accompanying good Catholic friends who belonged to the Young Christian Workers. He had a good sense of humor and liked to wrestle, play football, ping pong, cards and bridge.

When Marcel was 20 he fell in love with Marguerite Derniaux. He once said: “One must master his heart before he can give it to the one that is chosen for him by Christ." After being engaged, they imposed a strict spiritual rule of life which included praying the same prayers and going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist as often as they could.

On March 8, 1943, the war had gripped their city of Rennes. That day his sister, Madeleine was killed by one of the bombs that leveled her building. When the Germans later occupied France, Marcel was ordered and deported to Zella-Mehlis,Germany to Service of Obligatory Work. Knowing if he did not comply, his family would be arrested.

 Once there, he worked in a factory that produced bombs that would be used against his own countrymen. After three months or so of missing his family and missing Mass (there was no Catholic church in that town), Marcel became seriously depressed. He later found a room where Mass was offered on Sunday. This helped change his disposition. He reported that, "Finally Christ reacted. He made me to understand that the depression was not good. I had to keep busy with my friends and then joy and relief would come back to me."

With his morale and hope restored, he cared for his deported friends. He organized a group of Christian workers who did activities together. He also organized a theatrical group. He galvanized his friends despite him suffering from painful boils, headaches and infected teeth. For his French friends, he arranged a Mass to be celebrated in their native tongue. Eventually, his religious activities attracted unwanted attention from the German officials.

The Germans arrested Marcel on April 19, 1944 saying that, "Monsieur is too much of a Catholic." They interrogated Marcel, who admitting his Catholic activities, was imprisoned in Gotha. He secretly received the Eucharist while in prison and continued to pray and help his companions. He was considered dangerous to the Germans and was moved to a different prison at Mathausen.

He suffered from various ailments such as bronchitis, malnutrition, dysentery, fever, swelling, and generalized weakness. He never complained. Despite his suffering, he encouraged his companions by saying, "It is in prayer that we find our strength."

He died on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1945. Pope John Paul II beautified Marcel Callo on October 4, 1987 along with two Italian martyrs, Antonio Mesina and Pierina Morosini.   In his native country he is often compared to St. Maximilian Kolbe. He made similar choices, for which. like the latter, he paid with his life.

While in prison in Gotha, Marcel wrote a letter to his brother, who had just been ordained to the priesthood. * “Fortunately, He is a Friend, who never deserts me for an instant. He supports and consoles me. With Him, you can bear everything, even those terrible hours so filled with torment. How grateful I am to Christ. He has marked out the path for me, and now I am walking in it.”

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