St Titus Brandsma - Carmelite and Martyr

Anno Brandsma was born in the Dutch province of Friesland in 1881. He joined the Carmelite Order in 1898 taking his father’s name, Titus, as his religious name. He made his First Profession in October 1899 and was ordained priest on 17 June 1905. As an academic Titus specialised in philosophy and mysticism. He helped to found the Catholic University of Nijmegen in 1923 and later served as Rector Magnificus. In the years before the Second World War Titus was openly critical of the Nazi ideology. During the occupation of Holland, he defended the freedom of the Press and of the Catholic Press in particular. Titus was arrested in January 1942 and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp where he was killed by lethal injection on 26 July 1942. He was beatified as a martyr in 1985 and canonised on 15 May 2022. To Jesus with Mary Our Lady held a special importance for Titus Brandsma throughout his life. As a young boy Titus became familiar with various Marian practices including the rosary which the Brandsma family prayed on a daily basis. This Marian devotion would last a lifetime for Titus who even in prison organised several rosaries for himself when his one was taken from him. In addition, Titus became familiar with the idea that we find Jesus by going through Mary. With Mary as a mother and as a sister, he followed Jesus on his way to the heavenly father. Titus Brandsma Carmelite and Martyr MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD Young Titus with the Blessed Virgin Mary My soul magnifies the Lord Titus entered the Carmelite novitiate out of his desire for a more intense prayer life and because of the Order’s great devotion to Our Lady. Later, Titus places on his ordination card the words of Mary in her Magnificat: My soul magnifies the Lord. He who is mighty has done great things to me. (Luke 1: 46, 49) During his Roman years (1905-1909) Titus visited the catacombs, where an ancient image of Our Lady, called the Orante, impressed him. This he refers to as the image of the praying Church and to the image of Mary who sings her Magnificat. In a Marian magazine, Carmelrozen, which he co-founded, Titus wrote dozens of articles to foster love for Mary through an increased knowledge about the different forms of veneration of Mary, her feast days, Christian artwork and the teaching of the church and councils on Mary. Mary’s divine motherhood Of special importance to Titus was the Council of Ephesus (431) which had declared the dogma of Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer). Titus refected on the divine motherhood of Mary writing: In Mary we see the most beautiful image of our union with God. She, the bride of the Holy Spirit, teaches us how we also, though not in the fullness of grace but in a wider sense, must be brides of God, in order that he be born in us, united – also in us – with human nature, our human nature. Under the beneficent infuence of the Holy Spirit we must be born to a new life with God, who lives in us more than we live of ourselves. Increasing our devotion to Mary means learning to imitate the attitudes she has in her life. And so, we too are called to become like Mary: bearers of the divine life.