Mons. Vladimir Ghika is beatified in Bucharest

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Monsignor Vladimir Ghika (1873 – 1954), a Roman Catholic priest and Romanian prince, was beatified on Saturday, August 31, being declared ‘blessed’ in a Solemn Liturgy presided by Pope Francis’s envoy Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

According to the beatification ritual, after Bucharest Metropolitan Archbishop made the Pontiff’s envoy the request to put Monsignor Ghika among the blessed and presented his biography, Cardinal Amato read the Pope’s Apostolic Letter in Latin.

The letter was then read in Romanian: „Fulfilling the request of My Brother Ioan Robu, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bucharest, as well as of many other brothers in Bishopric and of numerous faithful, listening to the opinion of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, we, Our Apostolic Authority, allow that the Venerable Servant of God Vladimir Ghika, a Diocese priest and martyr, a zealous shepherd and persevering witness of God’s love, a fearless defender of the Catholic faith, as well as of the Communion with the Roman Church be called from now on by the name of Blessed and that his feast might be celebrated, every year, in the places and ways set by the Canonic Law on the 16th day of May, the day when he was born for Heaven. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen! Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on the 15th day of August, the Year of Our Lord 2013, the first of our Pontificate”.

The letter is signed by Pope Francis.

According to the customs of the beatification ceremony, the Blessed Vladimir Ghika’s image was unveiled and his relic was brought to the altar in a procession.

Cardinal Angelo Amato put incense to the relic and worshipped it.

Vladimir Ghika’s martyrdom for faith was acknowledged by Pope Francis on March 27.

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Vladimir Ghika or Ghica (born December 25, 1873 in Constantinople, today’s Istanbul, Turkey; died 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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