Illustrated novel released on Austrian martyr

.- A Spain-based publisher released a graphic novel on the life of Blessed Jacob Gapp, a priest from Austria who was killed by the Nazis in Valencia during World War II.

“I Will Not Give In: The Life of Santiago Gapp,” was issued by SM Press in December of 2011 and illustrated by Valencian artist Pacosales. 

The book features drawings and illustrations of the life of Blessed Gapp and is based on a biography written by Spanish priest Father Jose Maria Salaverri.

The Austrian martyr was born in Wattens in 1897 and after fighting in World War I in the country's armed forces, he joined the Marianists order and became a priest.

His fiery sermons against Hitler, who annexed Austria in 1936, made him a local hero and inspired resistance to the Nazis. He was forced to flee from the Gestapo in 1939 and eventually went to Valencia in 1941, where he took up residence at the Marianist home at Our Lady of the Pillar School. There he worked as a teacher and chaplain.

A few months later in May of 1942, two young Germans pretending to be Jews fleeing Nazi persecution came to the school and asked the priest for help.

They became very good friends to the point that the two young men asked him to instruct them in the Catholic faith in order to receive baptism, the archdiocese of Valencia reported.

Days before the baptisms were set to take place, Fr. Gapp was invited by his two friends to travel to the city of San Sebastian to meet some of their acquaintances. During the trip, they fooled him into passing through the town of Hendaya, a city just on the other side of the border with France, which was occupied by the Germans.

There he was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Paris and then Berlin. He was subjected to intense interrogations for months and finally beheaded on Aug. 13, 1943.

Fr. Gapp was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 24, 1996.

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April 16, 2014

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