As many as 8,000 people expected to attend Saturday’s beatification of Monsignor Ghika

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Over 200 priests and 20 bishops will provide the church service related to the beatification of Monsignor Vladimir Ghika (1873-1954) to be held on Saturday at the Romexpo Exhibition Hall of Bucharest, Spokesman for the Roman-Catholic Archbishopric Francisc Dobos reported on Friday. He said 8,000 people are expected to attend the beatification service.

‘There will be over 7,000 seats for the celebrants. The altar for the service will have a cross that will be more than 10 m high, so that the exhibition hall may turn on Saturday in a genuine church so that all the Christians may live a moment of spiritual awakening, close to God in this generous space. Some 7,000-8,000 people are expected to attend the beatification service,’ said Dobos.

He added that an icon of Monsignor Ghika will be unveiled during the beatification, while at the altar there will be Pope Francis’s envoy, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bucharest Metropolitan Archbishop Ioan Robu and the other church leaders while the other clerics will stay in reserved first-row seats.

Also present will be Paris Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, while Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Varlaam Ploiesteanu will represent the Romanian Christian Orthodox Church (BOR).

Representatives and leaders of other religious denominations of Romania will also be there, along with the diplomatic corps accredited in Bucharest, politicians and representatives of the civil society.

Presiding over the beatification service will be Cardinal Amato. The service will be preceded on Friday evening by a vigil at St. Joseph Cathedral. On Saturday afternoon a church service in the honour of Beatified Vladimir Ghika will be held that includes reading an akathist hymn and blessing Ghika’s icon with the Holy Chrism.

On Sunday, September 1, St. Joseph Cathedral will again play host to a solemn church service to give thanks and venerate the Beatified One.

Once beatified, Monsignor Vladimir Ghika will have its name registered with the beatified people and saints of the Catholic Church and introduced in the calendar of the local church, to be celebrated on May 16, the day of his martyrdom, his ‘birthday in Heaven.’

Dobos also said the beatification of Ghika is the most important liturgical and faith event for the local church, after a 1999 visit to Romania of late Pope John Paul II.

On March 27, 2013, Ghika was declared a martyr for the faith by Pope Francis.

He becomes the third Romanian Catholic martyr from the time of the Communist oppression to be beatified by the Catholic Church, after late Auxiliary Roman-Catholic Bishop of Satu Mare and Oradea Ignac Bogdanffy, who died in 1949 at the Aiud Jailhouse and was beatified in 2010, and Roman-Catholic Bishop of Satu Mare Janos Scheffler, who died in 1952 at the Jilava Jailhouse and was beatified in 2011.

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Vladimir Ghika or Ghica (December 25, 1873 in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, Turkey; May 16, 1954 in Jilava, Bucharest in Romania) was a Romanian prince, diplomat, essayist, charity man and priest.

He was the grandson of the last ruler of Moldavia, Prince Gregory V. Ghika ( 1849 – 1856 ), son of John Ghika (major general, minister plenipotentiary) and Alexandrina Ghika.

He was born on Christmas Day of 1873 in Constantinople (now Istanbul – Turkey). He was baptised and anointed by his Orthodox faithful mother, very fond of the Church, his father being at that time minister plenipotentiary in Turkey. In 1878 he was sent to school in France at Toulouse, and left in the care of a Protestant family in terms of education and religious practice because the area there had no Orthodox church. He graduated in 1895, after which he went to Paris to study at the Faculty of Political Science. Concomitantly, he attended classes in medicine, botany, art, literature, philosophy, history and law.

Ghika returned to Romania due to angina pectoris, where he continued his studies until 1898 when he went to Rome to attend the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of the Dominicans in Rome, Angelicum. He wanted to become a priest or monk, but Pope Pius XI advised him to give up the idea, at least for a while, and dedicate himself as secular apostolate. He did an outstanding job worldwide, in Bucharest, Rome, Paris, Congo, Tokyo, Sydney, Buenos Aires. Later, in jest, Pope Pius XI would call him „the big apostolic wanderer.” Thus, he became one of the pioneers of the lay apostolate.

He returned to Romania, where he devoted himself to works of charity and opened the first free clinic in Bucharest called Mariae Bethlehem, he laid the foundations of a great hospital and sanatorium, the Saint Vincent de Paul, thus establishing the first free hospital in Romania and the first ambulance service, becoming the founder of the first Catholic charity institution in Romania.

On October 7, 1923 Ghika was ordained priest in Paris by Cardinal Dubois, Archbishop of the city, and he would carry out priestly ministry in France until 1939. Shortly after ordination, the Holy See granted him the right to preach in the Byzantine Rite. Prince Ghika thus became the first bi-ritual priest of Wallachia.

On August 3, 1939 he returned to Romania, where the Second World War found him. He refused to leave Romania, so that he may be with the poor and the sick in order to help and encourage them.

After the Communists came to power, he refused again to leave, this time aboard the royal train, for the same reasons. He was arrested on November 18, 1952 on charges of „high treason” and imprisoned at Jilava where he was threatened, tortured and barbarically beaten. A year later he was brought to court for trial. On May 16, 1954 he died an emaciated, hungered and suffering man as a result of the ill treatment to which he had been subjected.

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