Blessed Zoltán Meszlényi
bishop and martyr
Official memorial: 4 March
Zoltán Meszlényi was born on 2 January 1892 in Hatvan. His parents were both teachers, who moved to Hungary from Rimavská Sobota. Zoltán went to school in Rimavská Sobota, then in Budapest. He took his secondary school leaving exam in the minor seminary of Esztergom in 1909. Cardinal Kolos Vaszary recognized his talents and offered him a scholarship in Rome. The talented young man graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University with a degree in canon law in 1915. In the same year (on 28 October 1915), he was ordained priest with age concession in Innsbruck. He first served as a curate in Komárom for a short time, then Cardinal János Csernoch called him to Esztergom.
From 1917 Blessed Zoltán was keeper of the archiepiscopal archives and master of ceremonies, from 1920 secretary of the archbishop and notary of the Holy See. After the death of János Csernoch in 1927, he became a reliable and loyal collaborator of Cardinal Jusztinián Serédi, who appointed him head of the archbishop's office and prebendary, and when the see of the auxiliary bishop of Esztergom became vacant, he considered him the most suitable candidate. He was consecrated bishop on 28 October 1937. His episcopal motto perfectly reflected his character: "Fidenter ac fideliter", that is, "With confidence and fidelity". Being an excellent canon lawyer, he also became a professor of the Archiepiscopal Academy of Law of Eger.
After the death of Jusztinián Serédi, he continued to serve the diocese with the same dedication. The new cardinal, József Mindszenty confirmed him in all of his positions and entrusted him with additional tasks. After Cardinal Mindszenty's arrest, canon and general vicar János Drahos governed the archdiocese of Esztergom until his death on 15 June 1950. The chapter summoned after the funeral elected auxiliary bishop Zoltán Meszlényi to succeed him. On the occasion of his inaugural as chapter vicar, Bishop Meszlényi wrote a circular letter, in which he expressed the principle of his actions in the following words: "As a faithful pastor of Christ, I have never denied the faith and the fidelity to our Church." This sentence anticipated his destiny: knowing his life and spirituality, everyone knew that he would never bargain with the atheistic state.
On 29 June 1950, two weeks after his election as vicar, he was arrested. There was no legal proceeding and no judgement. We only know what happened to him afterwards from the recollections of some of his surviving fellow prisoners. Zoltán Meszlényi was detained for a short time in the Budapest detention centre, then transferred to the intern camp in Kistarcsa. There he was separated from the rest of the prisoners in a room with no windows, where freezing temperatures in the winter and scorching temperatures in the summer made the prisoner’s life unbearable. His wards maltreated him and he did not receive his necessary medications. After long suffering, the dead body of the bishop was taken to the hospital in Mosony Street on 4 March 1951. He was buried in the new public cemetery of Rákoskeresztúr on 10 March. His death was registered later. On 22 June 1966 his remains were exhumed and placed in the crypt of the Esztergom Basilica.
His process of beatification was promoted by Cardinal Péter Erdő in 2004. On the occasion of his beatification, the relic of the bishop and martyr was placed in the side-altar of Saint Adalbert.
CCS protocol number: 2619
Competent forum: Esztergom-Budapest
Competent bishop: Cardinal Péter Erdő, primate and archbishop
Postulator: János Szőke SDB
Diocesan inquiry: 18 October 2004 – 23 January 2005
Inquiry of the Holy See (CCS)
Postulator (CCS): Andrea Ambrosi
Decree on validity of diocesan inquiry: 7 December 2007
Promulgation of decree on martyrdom: 3 July 2009
Beatification: 31 October 2009, Esztergom
Let us pray for his canonization!
Official prayer of the Mass (opening prayer)
Almighty God, you rewarded the apostolic zeal of
bishop and martyr Zoltán with the crown of glory.
Grant that we may follow his example
and courageously profess your name.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Those who obtain favours through his intercession are asked to notify the
Office of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest
1014 Budapest, Úri u. 62.