Blessed Edward Poppe
The saint of the day is Blessed Edward Poppe.
Blessed Edward Poppe was born on December 18, 1890 in Moerzeke, Belgium, to a baker’s family of modest means. From his mother he learned generosity and a devotion to prayer, and from his father a dedication to work and a love of the poor. In May 1909 Edward Poppe, a brilliant student, decided to become a priest to serve “poor Flanders”. As a seminarian he was distinguished for his desire to fulfil the will of God perfectly by following the example of Jesus and Mary and by being open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
After ordination he was assigned as a curate to St Colette’s, a working-class parish in Ghent. His special concern was for children, the poor and the dying. Leading a life of great personal poverty, he devoted particular attention to catechesis and Eucharistic associations, and was very concerned over the increasing dechristianization of society.
For reasons of health he was transferred to the rural area of Moerzeke and appointed rector of a religious community (1918-22). They would be four years of contemplation and study, half of which were spent in bed because of his poor health. He began writing about the problems affecting Flanders: Marxism, secularism and materialism. He wrote 10 short works, over 284 articles and thousands of letters. His visit in 1920 to the tomb of Therese of Lisieux had a deep impact on his spiritual life: from then on her “little way” became his way too.
He mobilized all educators for a re-evangelization campaign, whose starting point and goal was the Eucharist and whose watchword was: “First yourself, then others”. During this period he perfected his forward-looking apostolic methods and promoted a priestly association, catechesis, education in the faith through a Eucharistic campaign, liturgical renewal, the lay apostolate and the Flemish social movement. His home became a place of prayer and encouragement.
In October 1922 he was sent to Leopoldsburg to serve as spiritual director to clerics fulfilling their military service. During these last 15 months of his life, he was happy to share his message not only with future priests but with countless people who were touched by his words and writings.
Flander’s most beloved priest died on the morning of June 10, 1924 with his eyes fixed on the image of the Sacred Heart, on the merciful love to which he had totally entrusted himself.