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Saint Joseph Freinademetz - a Missionary Trained in the Example of the Heart of Jesus

Author: Michal Ertl, SVD
Subject: Heart of Jesus
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: VivatDeus.org
Year: 2024
Saint Joseph Freinademetz, a Missionary Trained in the Example of the Heart of Jesus

Saint Joseph Freinademetz – a Missionary Trained in the Example of the Heart of Jesus

‘The heart of the Saviour is open to all, so that they may draw joyfully from the wellsprings of salvation’ says a prayer on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, we look at the Heart of Jesus in a special way. It should encourage us to open our own hearts, to allow ourselves to be loved by Jesus and to become loving people ourselves, following Jesus’ example.

St Joseph Freinademetz succeeded in this in a special way. A beautiful example of this are the statements recorded for the beatification process by the residents of St Martin’s in Thurn. Josef Freinademetz worked there for two years as chaplain. The people felt how open his heart was to all those who came to him with their worries and concerns. During the beatification process, Maria Flöss quoted her mother, who used to say: ‘Going to Mr Freinademetz is like going to the Saviour himself. He always knows how to comfort and give good advice.’

The saint made the arduous journey up to the Flöss family many times to support the family during his mother’s serious illness. Maria was one of the children he taught in the primary school as chaplain. In March 1879, Josef Freinademetz visited St Martin’s again on his way from Steyl to China to say goodbye one last time. He confides in his travel diary: ‘The most precious thing I had to leave in St Martin were my dear schoolchildren. Notified of my arrival, they had organised a small party, which I naturally had to attend. The heartfelt weeping that the little ones burst into while I said a few parting words to them tore my heart out.’

One of the saint’s last letters was written to Maria Flöss a few weeks before his death.

‘I assure you, dear Maria, that perhaps never in 30 years has a letter given me as much pleasure as yours, written on behalf of all my dear pupils. … Oh, how often have I thought of these good sons and daughters over these long years, and how often have I told our missionaries about them and also our dear Chinese! What a comfort for me to know that they have not forgotten me in 30 years, yes, that they pray for me every day, they themselves and their little sons and daughters. … Thanks also to you, my dear Maria, who took the pen in your hand to send me the message … Greet them all a thousand times and tell them that I am praying for each of them, as I promised in my last sermon in St Martin’s.  Pray for me, Mary. Greet all my good students and especially their sons and daughters. I greet everyone, everyone in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Your teacher and friend Giuseppe Freinademetz’.

Saint Joseph Freinademetz, a Missionary Trained in the Example of the Heart of Jesus
Saint Joseph Freinademetz, a Missionary Trained in the Example of the Heart of Jesus

Almost all of Josef Freinademetz’s letters begin or end with a reference to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has a special place in his spirituality. For him, it is the place where he feels connected to all those who have a place in his own heart. In his first letter from China to his family in April 1879, he wrote: ‘I am extremely happy to be in China; don’t worry about me. If you want to visit me, enter the Sacred Heart and we will meet there.’



Michael Ertl, SVD
Michael Ertl, SVD

Michael Ertl was born in Germany in 1966. He entered the Congregation of the Divine Word in 1989. After training as a pastoral assistant and professing perpetual vows in St. Gabriel (Vienna), he spent three years in Chile, where he worked in parish and school pastoral. Back in Europe, he spent 14 years in a contemplative community in Belgium and served as novice master in Berlin. From 2018-2022 he was Spiritual Director of the “Centro Ad Gentes” in Nemi. In 2022 he was transferred to ITA and since then he lives in the house of St. Joseph Freinademetz in Oies.

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