BLESSED MARCEL CALLO was born on December 6, 1921, in
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. Rennes, France
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
, to Service of Obligatory Work. Knowing if he did
not comply, his family would be arrested. Germany
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
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. Gotha
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
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. St. Joseph
While in prison in
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.” Gotha