May he be the faithful and judicious servant whom thou thyself hast appointed, O Lord, over thy family, so that he might give them food in due season and offer every man perfected.
(Part of the rite of episcopal ordination)
József Mindszenty was born on 29 March 1892 in Csehimindszent, Hungary. His family of modest circumstances dates back to days of yore. One of his distant ancestors on the paternal side had probably come to Hungary from a part of the Czech Republic inhabited by Germans. His ancestors had lived as Hungarians in this Catholic region of Western Hungary for centuries. One of them, András Pehm received a manor from Zala County and became a member of the lesser nobility in 1733 as a reward for his valour in the reconquest of the border castle of Kiskomárom from the Turks.
"May we never forget the house in which our mothers' hands rocked our cradles, the family table by which we received the bread of paternal and maternal love, the fraternal bonds that create the happiest communion on earth, the prayers said with the eagerness of an innocent heart, the serious instructions of our fathers, the tears and kisses of our mothers, our first hopes and sorrows, and the first manifestations of duty and our character. All these sprout from the family in the most splendid spring of God." (József Mindszenty)
"My dearest son, Jóska! I have received your book about the mother. It fills me with great joy to know that there is a child in the world who has appreciated the value of a mother and has even written a book about her! And this child is my Son! I am forever grateful to God for this. I know, my dearest son, that your life is a thorny path and your cross is heavy and laden with worries. However, what I wish and what I pray for is that you can gather treasures for God, educate your faithful well and lead them into the kingdom of Jesus Christ with love." (Letter of József Mindszenty's mother, Borbála Kovács to her son)
1918: "Meanwhile, we had entered the fifth year of the war. Everywhere signs of uncertainty and exhaustion could be seen in the population and the machinery of government. A small liberal group consisting chiefly of intellectuals spread the slogan of 'Peace and Revolution' in the capital. Those proclaiming democracy and the right to freedom of association all over the place were the ones who used injustice and terror against us." (József Mindszenty)
"However popular materialism is nowadays, let us not abandon the faith of our ancestors and the Catholic doctrine. The events of Hungarian history reflect the providential hand of God. Hence, we Hungarians need never lose hope, no matter what storms rage through our nation. We call out to you, dear Hungarian people, to imitate your ancestors: Place yourselves in the hands of the Virgin and through her in the hands of God." (József Mindszenty)
"His dark brown eyes call your attention: they are full of sparkle as I have never seen before, they observe everything sharply and calmly, know the dark side of everything, and nevertheless, they are full of hope. They are the eyes of a person who has gone through dreadful things, has seen the depths of life and has been marked by a knowledge gained at the price of great suffering. These sparkling and yet peaceful eyes are as big and bright as the wondering eyes of a child. They rest on the distance, on the infinite horizon of eternity.