The Jewish Cardinal

by Steve Ray on November 16, 2014

I met a new hero today, but only through the medium of a movie. It was entitled The Jewish Cardinal. After returning home exhausted from the Raising Rebels Conference in Manchester NH where I gave three talks yesterday, I was ready for a good movie tonight. My wife found this one on Netflix. 

This drama details the true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who became a leader in the Catholic Church. An exciting story rated 5-star on Netflix (to which I would agree), the only slight difficulty was the fast-paced dialog in French which made it difficult at times to keep up with the captioning. Maybe this was because I was tired.

After the movie I read his story on Wikipedia, after which I loved him all the more. He was born in 17 September 1926 and died on 5 August 2007. He converted to the Catholic Church at 13 years old after having discovered the New Testament.

His mother was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp where she died a year later. This is where Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe also died. Lustiger’s father tried unsuccessfully to have his son’s baptism annulled, and even sought the help of the chief rabbi of Paris.

His tomb is in a crypt in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. I will visit his tomb in July while leading a group to Lourdes, Santiago di Compostela, Fatima and Paris. (Join us!)

His epitaph, which he wrote himself in 2004, can be seen in the crypt of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and translates as:

I was born Jewish.
I received the name
Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron
Having become Christian
By faith and by Baptism,
I have remained Jewish
As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers-by, pray for me.

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archbishop of Paris

When we stand before his crypt in July we will pray for him and we will honor him — a fulfilled Jew and an example to us all.

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