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Blessed Anton Durcovici

Anton was born on May 17, 1888 to Franz and Maria in the town of Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, Austria. He was baptized four days later in the Assumption church. Tragedy would strike the family early on - when he was only five years old his father died of tuberculosis in 1893. The family moved to the Romanian Kingdom in 1895 where his mother took jobs as a washerwoman and later as a seamstress. Anton went to high school at the Saint Andrei high school that was managed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Bucharest and quickly captured the attention of Benedictine monk Lucius Fetz.

After receiving confirmation from the Archbishop of Bucharest he served as a altar server before school. In 1906 he received his diploma from Father Augustin Kuczka having mastered Romanian, Greek, Hungarian, Italian and Latin. He then traveled to Rome and attended both the Saint Thomas pontifical college and the Propaganda Fide college, earning two doctorates in philosophy and theology. In 1910 he was granted a Doctor Dinitatis while he obtained his law degree. Having impressed both Cardinal Girolamo Maria Gotti and the college rector Monsignor Giovanni Bonzano, a age waiver was granted so that he could be ordained.

That ordination came on September 24th, 1910 in the Lateran Basilica. He would return to Romania in 1911 as a school teacher for seminarians and parish administrator in Tulcea. When Romania joined WW1 on the allied side, he was arrested and sent to an internment camp in Moldovia for being of Austrian citizenship. King Ferdinand I would free him and he continued teaching students from 1918-1922. During this time period he also founded the Unio Apostolica Cleri to promote vocations and brotherhoods within the priesthood. In 1931, King Charles II awarded him the Order of the Star of Romania.

Pope Pius XII appointed him as the Bishop of Iasi in 1947, but the ordination was postponed for five months due to the communist regime opposing the action. As the communist regime pushed for less papal control over Romanian Catholics, Anton was placed under surveillance and a formal dossier was opened by the communist party. 57 statements from peasants in 13 villages testified that Anton was refusing to introduce Hungarian language into the church liturgies and both he and his colleague Father Raffael Friedrich were arrested on June 26 1949.

For nearly two years he was held in the prison at Jilava before being transferred to Sighet prison with Bishop Aron Marton and Alexandru Cisar. While at Jilava, he was frequently beaten and tortured, often left in cell 13 with no light or heat. Sometime in November of 1951, the communist party moved him to an isolated cell, stripping him naked and exposing him to the winter weather in an effort for him to die alone. Witnesses would later testify that Anton received final absolution through the cell door from a fellow priest prisoner. He would die on December 10th, 1951 and be placed in an unmarked grave.

Saint Pope John Paul II opened the beatification process in 1997 when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints titled Anton a Servant of God. Pope Francis confirmed in October 2013 that he had died "in odium fidei" (in hatred of the faith) and Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the beatification in Romania on May 17, 2014. Nearly 23,000 people attended the ceremony.

His motto was

Beatus populus cuius Deus Dominus (Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord)
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