EUROPE/ESTONIA – An exhibition devoted to the cultural and pastoral commitment of Bishop Profittlich, builder of the local Church and martyr
Tallinn (Agenzia Fides) – “We would like to make the story of the Servant of God Eduard Profittlich SJ and of the Catholic Church in Estonia better known, especially to new generations”. Thus Marge-Marie Paas, diocesan postulator for the cause of beatification of the Jesuit and external collaborator of Father Pascual Cebollada SJ, general postulator of the Society of Jesus in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, comments with Agenzia Fides on the inauguration of the exhibition dedicated to Bishop Profittlich, held on August 8 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia, in the presence of Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu and the Catholic Bishop residing in Tallinn, Bishop Philippe Jourdan, Apostolic Administrator of Estonia.
This is the fourth stage of this traveling exhibition after those organized at the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Tallinn, at the Catholic school in Tartu and at the Estonian Parliament. Coming from a peasant family in a city in the south of the German Empire, Eduard Profittlich entered the Society of Jesus at the age of 23 in the Netherlands, the Jesuits having already been banished from the territories of the Second Reich.
Appointed Apostolic Administrator of Estonia by Pius XI on May 5, 1931, his vocation coincided with the refoundation and reorganization of the Catholic Church in Estonia. His commitment to the cultural and pastoral field, in constant dialogue not only with the small local group of Catholics, but also with the members of the other Christian denominations present in Estonia, led him to be close both to the intelligentsia of the Baltic republic and the most humble. Proof of the total dedication with which he carried out the tasks entrusted to him by the Holy See, in 1935 he applied for and obtained Estonian citizenship. With his consecration as archbishop in 1936 and the choice not to give up his chair during the Soviet invasion of June 1940, despite having had the opportunity to escape, he chose to link his destiny to that of the Estonian people. Soviet religious persecution did not spare the Archbishop of Tallinn: arrested in June 1941, he was deported to Kirov, a Russian town some 950 km from Moscow, where he died in prison in 1942.
The exhibition on the occasion of the eightieth anniversary of his martyrdom is also part of the celebrations of the first centenary of the diplomatic recognition of the Republic of Estonia by the Holy See, which took place de facto in 1919 and de jure in 1921. organized by Dr. Paas, was made possible with funds from Renovabis, an Eastern European aid organization of the Catholic Church in Germany, Bonifatiuswerk, a charity established to support Catholics in the GDR, and the collaboration of some volunteers. The exhibition has already proven to be a great place to share unique stories. Indeed, many visitors told those present of episodes related to personal or family life during those years when freedom of expression and faith was constantly threatened.
“The exhibition opened the hearts of many. It is important to commemorate the life of a Servant of God through conferences, articles and initiatives like this, to help spread the story of his martyrdom and , thus, fostering the recognition of his holiness”, continues Dr. Paas. It is this legacy of stories of sacrifice and loyalty to the Catholic Church during the nearly fifty years of Soviet occupation, such as the story of Eduard Profittlich SJ himself, and making them known to young Estonians in ‘today. Currently, the Catholic community in Estonia is very small, it is made up of about 6,000 faithful, or 0.5% of the total population. Eduard Profittlich is the first Estonian priest in the process of beatification. (CD) (Agenzia Fides 08/13/2022)