A Holy Week meditation: Blessed Father Aloysius Liguda SVD

By Father Stanley Plutz SVD

This story of Blessed Father Aloysius Liguda SVD is the second of five in Father Stanley Plutz’s meditation series.

Blessed Father Aloysius Liguda SVD
Educator and Spiritual Director
(1898-1942)

After his ordination to the priesthood, Father Liguda went to a university for further studies and became a certified teacher. He first served the mission cause as an educator in a school for girls administered by the Ursuline nuns. He prepared classes well, corrected the compositions and test papers. He tried to give fair grades. One of his students later wrote that he brought joy to every class.

Besides his teaching, he heard the confessions of several religious communities and served as the spiritual director of several persons striving for holiness. When he was persuaded to publish his Sunday homilies, he did so under the title of “Listen, Daughter.”

It soon became a bestseller. He gave spiritual conferences, recollections and retreats. He frequently spoke about the missionaries preaching to people in foreign lands. Two more books came from his pen, namely “Bread and Salt” and “Forward and Higher.”

His published homilies and conferences had an appeal among young people long after his martyrdom. His next assignment was teacher and rector of a Divine Word minor seminary.

Martyr Aloysius Liguda SVD
Manner of death: Drowned after strips of skin were cut off his body. His martyrdom lasted three years, the duration of his stay in the concentration camps.

The seminary where he was rector was turned into a concentration camp for priests. He did his best to be a good host and cheer up the prisoners. The Gestapo then transferred him from one concentration camp to another until he ended up in Dachau.

There, he endured a starvation diet with endless hard work and beatings. An epidemic of itching broke out. He and a thousand other prisoners were crowded into a barracks meant to accommodate 400 men.

At every possible opportunity, Aloysius would tell a joke or a story to cheer up his fellow prisoners. The guards took special pleasure in beating him, for he was considered an “intellectual” having a degree from a university over and above his priestly studies.

Ten of the prisoners, including Father Liguda, were drowned. A foreman, perhaps out of revenge for having been reprimanded for his unjust distribution of food, may have been the one who ordered strips of skin to be cut from Father Liguda body before his drowning.

Reflection
The reader might ask: During his imprisonment, suffering, and martyrdom, was Father Liguda ever tempted to think that all his formation and studies were in vain, were useless? After all, he was in the prime of life and healthy. Did he wonder if he could have given years more of priestly and missionary service?

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