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Ivan Merz

Blessed Ivan Merz
Born (1896-12-16)16 December 1896
Banja Luka, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, now (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Died 10 May 1928(1928-05-10) (aged 31)
Zagreb, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, (now Croatia)
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 23 June 2003, Banja Luka by John-Paul II
Major shrine Zagreb, Croatia
Feast 10 May
Patronage Croatian youth, youth as a whole, World Youth Day celebrations

Blessed Ivan Merz (December 16, 1896 in Banja Luka – May 10, 1928 in Zagreb) was a Croatian lay academic, beatified by Pope John Paul II on a visit at Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 23, 2003. Ivan Merz promoted the liturgical movement in Croatia and together with Ivo Protulipac created a movement for the young people, “The Croatian union of the Eagles” (“Hrvatski orlovski savez)”, inspired by the “Eucharistic Crusade,” which he had encountered in France.


  • Biography 1
    • Life as a Layman 1.1
  • Beatification and Process of Canonization 2
  • Some of Ivan Merz's thoughts 3
    • Novena to blessed Ivan Merz 3.1
    • Graces and grantings by the intercession of the blessed Ivan Merz 3.2
    • In the Philippines 3.3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


Life as a Layman

Ivan Merz[1] was a young layman from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who lived in a turbulent age.

He was born from a liberal family, on December 16, 1896 in Banja Luka, when Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary. He attended school in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious environment of his native town and graduated at the time when Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand was murdered (June 28, 1914). His mother was Jewish.[2]

Bl.Ivan Merz

He joined the military Academy in Wiener Neustadt at his parents' request but, disgusted by the corruption of this environment, he left after three months. In 1915, he started his university studies in Vienna but was called up shortly thereafter to serve in the army during World War I. After that, he returned to Banja Luka, where he experienced radical political change and the birth of the new Yugoslav State. In 1919 until 1920 he was in Vienna, studying at the Faculty of Philosophy. In October 1920 he set off for Paris, where he attended some lessons at the Sorbonne University and in the “Institute Catholique”, preparing in the meantime his doctoral dissertation

He won his doctorate at the Faculty of Philosophy on the University of Zagreb in 1923 through his thesis, “The influence of liturgy on the French writers.” He was professor at the archiepiscopal gymnasium in Zagreb till his death (May 10, 1928).

Little known outside his native country, Ivan Merz fascinates those who approach him first as a Catholic student and soldier, then as an intellectual layman with a broad culture, who employed all his energy in serving other people and educating Croatian youth. Without a family or spiritual guidance, he found his way to sanctity, so that he was defined as a “Spontaneous spirit fruit”, where the presence of the Grace is experimentally proved.

Merz came out of the war as a mature Christian and as such, he resumed his studies in Vienna and continued them in France, devoting himself more and more to the Croatian Catholic movement.

Once back in Zagreb, he gave a new direction to the youth movement of the “Eagles” (“Hrvatski orlovi”), according to the Catholic Action’s principles. As a mature man he modeled the “catholic man” par excellence, "whose heart was beating together with the heart of the Church that has no national or political frontiers; the Church that is the Mystical Body of Christ, gathered around the real Christ in Eucharist, represented by his vicar on earth, the Pope." The Church, the Eucharist and the Pope: three loves, or rather one only love, according to Merz, who was trying with all his might to instill it in Croatian youth.

He promoted the liturgical movement in Croatia and, according to Pius XI’s instructions, in order to put together an “elite” of apostles to work for the “renewal of everything in Christ”. He worked for five years to establish the Kingdom of God in his country.

As a layman consecrated to God, he devoted himself for six years to the apostolic work of bringing up Catholic youth in Croatia. He promoted the liturgical revival and the Catholic Action of the Pope Pius XI. Completely devoted to the Church and the Pope in Rome, Ivan lived a holy life imbued with the worship of the Eucharist. Although he was a layman he is called “the pillar of the Church” in Croatia.

Beatification and Process of Canonization

In 1928, Merz died, leaving an example of how a man can live, fight and suffer for God’s cause. Merz tried hard to give his life the “full meaning”, heading for sanctity, and all his pedagogical task was devoted to the formation of apostles of sanctity. He died on May 10, 1928 with a reputation of a saint. His shrine is located in the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus in Zagreb, Croatia. The canonization cause started in 1958.

Pope John Paul II beatified him in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on June 22, 2003, and put him as an example of Christian life to the young and lay believers. The Postulator of the Cause is Fr. Bozidar Nagy, SJ.

Some of Ivan Merz's thoughts

From Paris, when he was a student, he was writing to his mother: “You should know that the university life in Vienna, the war, my studies and Lourdes have persuaded me completely about the truth of the catholic religion. That is the reason all my life is turning around the Lord Jesus Christ. The catholic faith is my life’s vocation.

Why do I love the Catholic Church and the Pope? Because in the Church I can see a clear image of the beloved Saviour, the God-man, Jesus Christ, with all his perfections, and in the figure of the Pope I can see my God and my Lord.

Only in heavenly glory – in the Heart of Jesus – the tree of our inner life, which started to sprout on earth, will grow to its full size and its full blossom.

The route of every apostolate is the fight against sin.

A Christian young man is convinced that only two women may have an outstanding position in the heart of a man of firm character: it is his mother and his future children's mother. Therefore, he has to take good care of holy chastity in his heart as the most beautiful pearl of his youth.

Suffering is more useful to the Kingdom of Christ than a long work, erudite discussions or wonderful speeches and articles.[3]

One can’t express what one feels when Christ unites with us in Holy Communion. There is a wish for more and more, for the whole Christ, for Light, for God – the Creator.

Don’t let us forget Christ’s immeasurable love and let’s pay more attention to the little white Host which waits for us lonely, in small chilly churches.

Sects appear in a sick society and show that Christians haven't done their duty.

To educate and lead people to Jesus is more important than art, and in this work, art, as well as everything created, has to help people to draw closer to Jesus.

These past days I fairly sank. I was rather lazy, I ate disorderly, I prayed little, I didn't suffer at all, I was angry, a little bit stingy, and therefore I lost the connection with the One.

I'd like to be humble! Immensely humble! I'd like to destroy all of my inborn haughtiness and humbly long for the truth, only because of this truth itself.

I should pray to God longer in order not to lose that mystical relation with Him, to feel him in each thought, in each look and in each job.

The two sacraments – Holy Communion and Holy Confession – are the sources of a permanent and successful reform of the inner life of each Catholic.

Since sin is the greatest evil, in fact the only evil, it deprives us of the only good – God. It means that we should hate sin most and fight against it with all our might.

Sin is the cause of the greatest catastrophes of humankind.

Not to have any other Fiancé except You, my Savior. Don't let me ever betray You and give me strength to become more and more similar to You in a voluntary suffering.

How far I am from perfection! Mud, ugly mud hangs yet on me. I’ll have to work long to wash it off.

Only in Heaven will our soul become a perfect reflection of the most holy, eternal, divine Sun of the Trinity.

When I hear people speak despicably, when ugly pictures are willing to creep in my soul too, I can always see a picture of the Madonna with the Child, that beautiful and majestic expression, that concentration of everything exalted.

Several days ago I vowed chastity to the Blessed Virgin until marriage. It may last until death. (B. Luka, December 12, 1915).

Marital love is a picture, a premonition, and a preparation for the infinite love of God.

When this life passes away and when a marital link breaks, one should unite with the Son of God for whom one was created. Then each individual soul will be engaged to the resurrected Christ.

Pieces of advice to young men

The divine goodness is something eternally female that shines through a female being and inspires you to love God more.

A girl is a reflection of God's perfection, and she is designed to uplift you in a complementary way. But, if she is to be really a complete help to you, you should both bring everything into your marriage and not to waste anything before, because you will miss it during your bitter days.

Seek spirituality and character first in your fiancée, which hide in themselves the eternal treasures for your children. Both of you should be intact before marriage, because only such people will be faithful in marital chastity.

Avoid the dangers of tenderness, falling too early in love and improper touches. Develop yourself so that you can give her a lot in a family, and not only ask for and receive from her.

A Christian young man knows very well that a chaste life is not harmful to his health, but on the contrary, it gives him indescribable freshness and strength.

A Christian young man is convinced that only two women may have an outstanding position in the heart of a man of firm character: it is his mother and his future children's mother. Therefore, he has to take good care of holy chastity in his heart as the most beautiful pearl of his youth.

More quotes at:

Ivan Merz's testament

The last lines he wrote before his death: Died in the peace of the catholic faith. My life was Christ and my death was my gain. I am expecting the Mercy of the Lord and undivided, complete, eternal possession of the Most Sacred Hearth of Jesus. Happy in joy and peace. My soul will reach the goal for which it was created. This text is today the epitaph on Ivan Merz’s grave in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Zagreb.

Novena to blessed Ivan Merz

After the beatification of Ivan Merz in 2003 by Pope John Paul II, the veneration of the new Croatian Blessed became more and more widespread, not only in his native land of Croatia, but also in different parts of the world. Many are praying to him asking for his help and many have had their petitions granted. One can read numerous documented expressions of gratitude on his grave and on the website in the internet in his honor.[4] All those people whose prayers were fulfilled by the intercession of Blessed Ivan Merz should inform the: POSTULATION OF BL. IVAN MERZ

Graces and grantings by the intercession of the blessed Ivan Merz

After the death of the blessed Ivan Merz, 10 May 1928, many people immediately started to pray for his intercession in different spiritual and bodily needs, and their prayers were granted. They left stone plaques with thanks on his tomb. Many of them sent their thanks to the Postulature. We are starting to publish the thanks chronologically. We are starting with the first miracle which took place in 1930, two years after the death of the blessed Ivan Merz. This miracle was testified and accepted in the Vatican in the process of beatification of the blessed Ivan Merz.[5]

In the Philippines

The Cause for the Canonization of Blessed Ivan Merz is officially promoted by the Confraternity of Catholic Saints in the Philippines.[6] The Director of the Confraternity, Dave Ceasar Dela Cruz was elected as the Vice Postulator of the Cause[7] on 19 March 2008 by the Vatican through the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Postulation Website of Bl. Ivan Merz, English Biography (Accessed January 30, 2008)
  2. ^ Lav Znidarčić: Križarska organizacija, životno djelo Ivana Merza, Obnovljeni život (52) 3/4 ( 1997) str. 251.
  3. ^ Blessed IVAN MERZ international
  4. ^ Novena to blessed Ivan Merz
  5. ^ Graces and grantings by the intercession of the blessed Ivan Merz
  6. ^ Confraternity of Catholic Saints blogsite (Accessed March 16, 2009)
  7. ^ The Official Website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines News Service (Accessed on March 19, 2009)
  8. ^ The CCS Official blog, Letter of Nomination (Accessed March 16, 2009)
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