On a related note, Maximillian Kolbe, the Polish friar who allegedly jockeyed to be first in line for extermination at Auschwitz (yeah this smells funny), became the canonized patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio and the pro-life movement. Kolbe also became the subject of some very interesting and bizarre iconography and artwork.
So in effect the child saint of kidnap and torture victims was out of a job, and the patron saint of drug addicts and amateur radio found a boost in the holocaust. Sanctified victimhood seems to be a competitive world.
First, from Wikipedia, Simon of Trent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_of_Trent
Simon of Trent (German: Simon Unverdorben; Italian: Simonino di Trento); also known as Simeon; (1472 – March 21, 1475) was a boy from the city of Trento, Italy whose disappearance was blamed on the leaders of the city's Jewish community based on their confessions under torture, causing a major blood libel in Europe.
Shortly before Simon went missing, Bernardine of Feltre, an itinerant Franciscan preacher, had delivered a series of sermons in Trent in which he vilified the local Jewish community. When Simon went missing around Easter, 1475, his father decided that he must have been kidnapped and murdered by Jews. According to his story, the Jews had drained Simon of his blood, supposedly for use in baking their Passover matzohs and for occult rituals that they allegedly practiced in private.
Giving a succinct background to the story, historian Ronnie Po-chia Hsia wrote: "On Easter Sunday 1475, the dead body of a 2-year-old Christian boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent, Italy. Town magistrates arrested 18 Jewish men and five Jewish women on the charge of ritual murder - the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites. In a series of interrogations that involved liberal use of judicial torture, the magistrates obtained the confessions of the Jewish men. Eight were executed in late June, and another committed suicide in jail".
The leaders of the Jewish community were arrested, and seventeen of them were forced to confess under torture. Fifteen of them, including Samuel, the head of the community, were sentenced to death and burned at the stake. Meanwhile, Simon became the focus of veneration for the local Catholic Church. The local bishop, Hinderbach of Trent, tried to have Simon canonized, producing a large body of documentation of the event and its aftermath. Over one hundred miracles were directly attributed to Saint Simon within a year of his disappearance, and his cult spread across Italy, Austria and Germany. However, there was initial skepticism and Pope Sixtus IV sent Bishop of Ventimiglia, a learned Dominican, to investigate. The veneration was restored in 1588 by the Franciscan Pope Sixtus V. The 'saint' was eventually considered a martyr and a patron of kidnap and torture victims. Simonino was never canonized as a saint, although the Franciscan pope approved a special Mass in honor of Simonino ("little Simon") to be said in the diocese of Trento, Italy. The cult survived until 1965, when, in the wake of the Holocaust, it was abolished by the Pope.
His entry in the old Roman Martyrology for March 24 read:
Tridénti pássio sancti Simeónis púeri, a Judǽis sævíssime trucidáti, qui multis póstea miráculis coruscávit.
(Translated) At Trent, the martyrdom of the boy St. Simeon, who was barbarously murdered by the Jews, but who was afterwards glorified by many miracles.
Simon of Trent does not appear in the new Roman Martyrology of 2000, nor on any modern Catholic calendar.
The Simon of Trent story produced some interesting and sordid works of art depicting Jews torturing and strangling the child:
Now we come to Maximilian Kolbe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_Kolbe
Saint Maximilian Kolbe (8 January 1894 – 14 August 1941), was a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland.
He was canonized on 10 October 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and declared a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio and the pro-life movement. Pope John Paul II declared him "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century".
During the Second World War, he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanów. He was also active as a radio amateur, with Polish call letters SP3RN, condemning Nazi activities.
On 17 February 1941, he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison. On May 28, he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670.
In July 1941, a man from Kolbe's barracks vanished, prompting SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Fritzsch, the deputy camp commander, to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts. The man who had disappeared was later found drowned in the camp latrine. One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, "My wife! My children!" Kolbe volunteered to take his place.
While imprisoned, and while in the starvation cell, he celebrated Mass each day for as long as he was able and gave Holy Communion to the prisoners covertly during the course of the day; the bread given to prisoners was unleavened and so could be used in the Eucharist, and sympathetic guards gave him materials, including wine, that he could use.
In the cell, he led the other men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were left alive. He encouraged others that they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. When Kolbe was the last survivor, he was killed with an injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. His remains were cremated on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Kolbe is also the object of much bizarre and macabre art and iconography: