More than 10,000 people have attended the beatification ceremony in Romania of Mgr Vladimir Ghika, tortured to death by the Communist regime in 1954, reports The Catholic Herald.
The August 31 ceremony, broadcast live on Romanian TV, brought together the country’s two major Catholic rites, the Latin and Byzantine, whose members use an Orthodox-style liturgy. Blessed Ghika had the unusual authority, approved by Pope Pius XI, to celebrate liturgies in both rites.
Born in Constantinople in 1873, Blessed Ghika was a diplomat and essayist who converted from Orthoxoy to Catholicism and then became a priest.
As believers from across the country flowed into the massive, round hall, volunteers greeted each with a scarf to wear, printed with the martyr’s serene face and signature white beard.
Hundreds of priests and bishops processed toward an altar emblazoned in Vatican colors, yellow and white, offset by a large red cross, the color of martyrdom, as a brass ensemble conveyed the solemnity of an event marking a face-off between holiness and brutality.
Hermina Idomir, an 80-year-old Romanian Catholic professor from Brasov, said of Mgr Ghika: ”He was treated worse than a dog in jail, this beautiful elderly priest. Everyone knew of his goodness – he started the first free clinic in Bucharest, the first ambulance service. He was a prince but preferred the poor. And the communists arrested him for writing a letter to the pope.”
Blessed Ghika is the third Romanian priest, killed by the anti-Christian dictatorship, to be beatified since 2010.
In the homily, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, described three aspects of the martyr’s exceptional “pastoral love”.