Rupert Mayer as a Chaplain at the Front
Father Rupert Mayer served as a military chaplain in World War I (1914-1918). He had volunteered for military service. He first served in Field Hospital No. 2 of the I Bavarian Army Corps and then as the divisional chaplain of the 8th Bavarian Reserve Division as of January of 1935.
As an army chaplain, he celebrated worship services with his comrades and was their contact and mediator for many everyday worries and troubles during the war. Given the constant mortal danger at the front lines, one of his most important jobs was hearing confession so that soldiers absolved of grave sins would be able to stand before the divine judge well prepared if they were to die. His work also included countless funeral ceremonies (see picture 1; 4th from the right: P. Mayer).
Father Rupert Mayer also took his ministry very seriously, particularly at the front, whenever he made it through to the dying in order to hear their confession and bring them communion as so-called provisions for their journey to a good death or to save wounded and abandoned soldiers from the line of fire. Reports from contemporaries describe Mayer’s exemplary dedication for which he was awarded the Iron Cross II Class – the first time ever for a cleric (see picture 2).
In December of 1916, he was wounded by a shell in the Sulta Valley in Rumania so severely that nearly his complete left leg had to be amputated. From then on, he was only able to walk with a prosthesis, which caused him great pain time and again in the following years, especially on long pilgrimages and processions.
Source / title
- © 1: Archiv der Deutschen Provinz der Jesuiten, Akz. 298/2010, Nr. 125 h; 2. Ibid., Akz. 298/2010, Nr. 124 d (4.3.3)