Student Corner: Journalists look to St. Titus as co-patron saint

Perspectives from Catholic School students on topics of faith

By Jameson Datoc

On May 15, 2022, Pope Francis canonized Blessed Titus Brandsma as a saint, and shortly after, supporters asked that he be named as a patron saint of journalists alongside St. Francis de Sales, who has been the patron of journalists and writers since 1923.

“It’s a good step forward for the Church and writers alike,” said The Crusader’s Religion Editor Alex Robinson, ’23.  “It brings a sense of community no matter what religion you believe in.”

Anno Sjoerd Brandsma was born on Feb. 23, 1881, in the village of Oegeklooster in Friesland, Netherlands. His family were devoted Catholics in a predominantly Calvinist region. On Sept. 17, he entered the Carmelite Friars in Boxmeer as a novice and took the religious name Titus in honor of his father. He professed his vows in October 1899.

In 1909, he earned a doctorate in philosophy in Rome and worked in Oss as a writer and a teacher. He became a founder of the Catholic University of Nijmegen (Radboud University), worked as a journalist, and was the ecclesiastical adviser to Catholic journalists by 1935, while he stayed at the friary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Kinsale, Ireland.

After the Invasion of the Netherlands by the Third Reich, Brandsma strongly opposed the spread of the Nazi ideology and pushed for educational and press freedom. In January 1942, he hand-delivered a letter from the Conference of Dutch Bishops to the editors of Catholic newspapers in which the bishops ordered all Catholic newspapers to not print official Nazi documents even though it was required under the new law by the German occupiers. This made him a target of the Nazis.

“His actions reminded me of the Blessed Father Chaminade, just how he had the courage to give Communion in secret in Spain “ despite the government’s prohibitions against religion.” commented Deacon Chris Mariano.  “In the same respect, St. Titus had the courage to oppose the German occupiers for the greater good of the Catholic community.”

Brandsma visited 14 of editors before being arrested on Jan. 19, 1942. He was held prisoner in several locations until he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp. Upon arrival, his health deteriorated, and eventually he was transferred into the camp hospital. There, he died on July 26 due to lethal injection administered by a nurse as a part of the Nazi program of medical experimentation on the prisoners.

“St. Titus is a prime example of what journalists are tasked with in regard to shining a light on truth, and in this case, a grave evil,” said journalism teacher Susan Sutton. “In addition, he exemplifies what Catholics are called to do – speak out for those in need, for those in peril, and to constantly strive for peace.”

She added, “I fully support naming him as a patron saint of journalists in addition to St. Francis de Sales as he is a symbol for truth and peace, and a reminder that we should all value life and defend against injustices everywhere.”

Jameson Datoc is the photo editor for Archbishop Riordan High School Newspaper, The Crusader.