Blessed Kasper Stangassinger

Birth: January 12, 1871, in Berchtesgarden, Germany
Death: September 26, Bavaria
Beatification: 1988
Feast: September 26

Gaspar Stanggassinger, the second of sixteen children, was born in Berchtesgaden, Germany on January 12, 1871. From his youth, Gaspar had a growing desire to become a priest. He used to engage his brothers and sisters with preachings and processions. At the age of ten, he went to Freising to continue his schooling where he found the studies rather difficult so there was even a question of quitting his studies. But he succeeded in making steady progress with effort and prayer. In 1884 he was admitted to the minor seminary in Freising. During summer vacations he organized boys’ clubs with the intent of forming them in the Christian life.

In 1890, after his baccalaureate diploma, he entered the diocesan seminary. During this time it became clear to him that the Lord was calling him to live as a religious. In 1892, after a visit of the Redemptorist missionaries, he was inspired to follow their vocation as missionaries. In spite of his father’s opposition, he entered the novitiate the same year and was ordained a priest in 1895. Gaspar entered the Congregation with the intention of preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned. Instead, his superiors appointed him to form future missionaries. In addition to teaching, he always gave pastoral assistance at churches in neighbouring villages, especially by preaching. Although very busy, he was always available, especially to the students who saw in him more a friend than a superior. He was deeply devoted to the Eucharistic Lord and in his preaching invited all to have recourse to the Blessed Sacrament in times of need and anxiety.

In his preaching, he did not have recourse to the threats of punishment that were common in the preaching of the time. Rather he was simple and direct, inspiring the faithful to confidence and fraternal charity and to take Christian life seriously. In 1899, the Redemptorists opened a seminary in Gars, Bavaria, and he was sent there as director. He was twenty-eight years old at the time.

But on arrival, he was only able to preach the retreat to the students and to participate in the opening of the school year before succumbing to a fatal case of peritonitis on September 26. He used to say: "The saints have a special intuition. For me, who am not a saint, what is important are the simple eternal truths; the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Holy Eucharist." He was proclaimed blessed by John Paul II on April 24, 1988.