Blessed Titus Brandsma (1881 – 1942) is one of the most inspiring Carmelites to the contemporary world. Churches, schools and streets are named after him.
He was born Anno Sjoerd Brandsma in 1881 in Oegeklooster a hamlet in Friesland near Bolsward. Titus, he later chose as his monastic name.
The socioeconomic disadvantage of Frisian Catholics had a great influence on Titus Brandsma’s life. His commitment to the emancipation of Dutch and Frisian Catholics, especially in the fields of education and journalism, had its origins here.
At the age of 17, Titus chose to enter the Carmel Order. Already in the first years of his monastic life he came in contact with mystical writings. It was in the area of the study of mysticism and spirituality that his greatest achievements would later lie.
In 1923 Titus Brandsma was appointed professor of philosophy and mysticism at the then founded Catholic University in Nijmegen. He pioneered the collection and description of medieval mystical writings. However, his interest was not only studious. He was deeply concerned with people’s personal relationship to God, as evidenced by his 1932 death speech.
In the 1930s, Titus Brandsma warned on many occasions against the dangers of rising National Socialism. During the first years of occupation, Titus continued to resist, especially through education and journalism. On January 19, 1942, he was arrested by the Gestapo and accused of sabotage activities. Several weeks of interrogation followed at the office of the Sicherheitsdienst at the Binnenhof in The Hague. During this period he wrote, among other things, the writing My Cell – Diary of a Prisoner. Not long after, his final journey began, via various prisons, toward the Dachau concentration camp. Here he died on July 26, 1942.