Rupert Mayer

Father Rupert Mayer SJ (*January 23, 1876 in Stuttgart; + November 1, 1945 in Munich) was a Jesuit priest and minister in Munich. He was already aware of the danger of National Socialism in the 1920s and and, especially from 1935 onward, took an unambiguous stance against the regime and its policies in sermons that attracted wide attention.

At first a priest in the See of Rottenburg, Mayer joined the Jesuit order in 1900 and started serving in Munich in 1912. In World War I, he was a division chaplain at the front. Nearly his entire left leg had to be amputated when he was wounded in 1917. Back in Munich, he made a name for himself through his social and charitable work and was extremely popular among the populace. He drew attention to himself by voicing criticism at Communist and National Socialist events and persisted in his criticism even after the Nazi seizure of power. He was severely harassed for this but had the support of Archbishop Cardinal Faulhaber.

Director of the traditional Marian Congregation for Men at the Bürgersaal in Munich from 1921 onward, Mayer distinguished himself as an opponent of Hitler in his sermons in Munich and Bavaria. He especially fought for denominational schools and freedom to proclaim the church’s message. He ignored a preaching ban issued in 1937 and was consequently summoned before the Special Court in July. After six months in prison, he carried on undeterred and was arrested once again in 1938.

He was released in the course of the Austrian amnesty of 1939, only to be imprisoned again: Invoking the seal of the confessional, he refused to make any further statements during interrogation about monarchist party members who had contacted him and was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. When Mayer’s health took a life threatening turn, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered him placed under house arrest in Ettal Abbey in Upper Bavaria in 1940.

After the war’s end, he returned to Munich in May of 1945. Father Rupert Mayer suffered a deadly stroke while celebrating the Mass on November 1, 1945. His prosthetic leg caused him to remain standing upright. In recognition of his resistance, the people of Munich said of him that not even in death did Father Mayer fall. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Munich in 1987.

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