With great sadness but also thanksgiving for her life and witness, Pax Christi USA learned this morning that Franziska Jägerstätter died this past weekend. She passed peacefully in her sleep in St. Radegund, Austria, just a few days after celebrating her 100th birthday. Below is an article written by Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Fr. John Dear, S.J. after meeting her in 2007.
by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Hundreds of thousands opposing the war took to the streets last week in Washington, D.C. I was in Los Angeles at the time and joined a march there. Destination: the L.A. Federal Building. There we were addressed by Cindy Sheehan and Ron Kovic, inspiring speakers both.
And on top of that, a delightful surprise—I ran into my old friend singer Jackson Browne. He and I were arrested on those same federal building steps eighteen years ago, and spent a memorable day in jail with over a hundred other churchworkers and activists, strategizing our next action and campaign to stop U.S. military aid to El Salvador.
To cap off the weekend, on my return home, I found a card from Austria waiting for me, from 94-year-old Franziska Jagerstatter—wife of martyred Franz. Her card, full of love and blessings, bore a kind of weight. Suddenly our small steps for peace last weekend fell into proper perspective, which is to say they loomed small.
In 1936 Franziska married Franz, a farmer, who overnight became a devout Catholic and served as the sacristan in their village church in St. Radegund. In 1938 the Nazis rumbled into Austria and it seemed everyone but Franz supported the Anschluss. He dared speak openly against Hitler and with only a handful of other Austrians, he refused conscription into the army.…