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Iuliu Hossu (30 January 1885 – 28 May 1970) was a Romanian Greek-Catholic bishop of the Cluj-Gherla Diocese. Pope Paul VI elevated Hossu to the rank of cardinal in pectore, that is, secretly, in 1969 but did not publish his appointment until after Hossu's death. The Communist authorities arrested Bishop Hossu on 28 October 1948. From 1950 to 1955 he was detained as political prisoner at the Sighet prison. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died in 1970.[1]

Iuliu Hossu
Servant of God
Bishop of Cluj-Gherla
Episcopul Iuliu.jpg
Church Romanian Greek-Catholic Uniate Church
Diocese Cluj-Gherla
See Cluzj-Gherla
Appointed 21 April 1917
Term ended 28 May 1970
Predecessor Vasile Hossu
Successor George Guţiu
Ordination 27 March 1910
by Vasile Hossu
Consecration 3 March 1917
by Victor Mihaly de Apşa
Rank Bishop
Personal details
Birth name Iuliu Hossu
Born (1885-01-30)30 January 1885
Milaș, Beszterce-Naszód County, Austria-Hungary
Died 28 May 1970(1970-05-28) (aged 85)
Colentina Hospital, Bucharest, Romania
Previous post
Motto Credința noastră este viața noastră ("Our faith is our life")
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Title as Saint Servant of God
  • Episcopal attire

He is considered to have died in hatred of his Christian faith and his canonization cause – as well as that of six other prelates – has been opened. He is referred to as a Servant of God.



Education and priesthoodEdit

His uncle Vasile.

Iuliu Hossu was born in 1885 in Milaș in the then-Austro-Hungarian empire to Ioan Hossu (1856–???) and Victoria Măriuţiu. His brothers were Vasile (a barrister) and Traian (a doctor) and Ioan (an engineer). His paternal grandparents were Vasile Hossu (1831–89) and Maria Sebeni; his paternal cousin was Iustin Hossu.[1] A nephew was Stefan Hossu. His paternal aunts were Alecsa and Nicolae Hossu (1859–1914). His great-grandfather was Iosif Hossu (1822–46) and before him were Nicolae (1768–1841) and Petre (c. 1525).

Hossu studied at the ecclesial school in Cluj and later in Budapest. His grade four studies were overseen at a Roman Catholic school in Târgu Mureş while grade five to eight was spent at a Greek-Catholic school in Blaj.[1] He also studied at the Vienna college in Austria and later at the Pontifical Urbanian Athenaeum in Rome where he went on to obtain doctorates in philosophical studies in 1906 and in theological studies in 1908.

His uncle Vasile Hossu (30.01.1866–13.01.1916) ordained him to the priesthood on 27 March 1910. He completed further studies from 1910 to 1911 and served as an archivist and a librarian. From 1911 to 1914 he served as the personal aide to the Bishop of Gherla (his uncle Vasile) and became friends with Prime Minister István Tisza.[1] He later served as a chaplain to the Romanian soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian armed forces during World War I between 1914 and 1917. His brothers Vasile and Traian were mobilized as soldiers during the war while his brother Ioan was made a rail officer at the Oradea station. His cousin Iustin fought and died on the Serbian front. The death of his cousin prompted him to join as a chaplain so the new lieutenant left in December 1914 from Timisoara to Vienna where he tended to the soldiers.


Pope Benedict XV appointed him as the Bishop of Gherla on 17 April 1917 and he received his episcopal consecration on 4 December 1917; the Blessed Karl I nominated him for the position on 3 March and forwarded it to the pope for his confirmation. He was named as the Bishop of Cluj-Gherla when the see was transferred on 5 June 1930 and Pope Pius XI later appointed him as the Apostolic Administrator of Maramureş from 1930 until 1931 when a successor for that diocese was named.[1][2] Hossu was named an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne on 16 September 1936 which made him a Monsignor. He also made the Apostolic Administrator of Oradea Mare from 1941 until 1947 when Pope Pius XII appointed him as such.

For his opposition to the government he was forced to flee his diocese on 28 October 1948 but was soon arrested. He was confined at Jilava and Drogoslavele and later at Sighet and Gherla from 1948 to 1964. He was relocated to a convent near Bucharest from that point until 1970 and was transferred to a hospital there in May 1970.

Under Communist terror and forced attempts to union with the Romanian OrthodoxyEdit

He opposed the forced passage of Greek-Catholic believers to the Romanian Orthodox Church.[3] On 1 October 1948 he gave an Exclamation Decree (ipso facto) to the participants in the Cluj Assembly of the 36 Greek Catholic priests who would decide to break the Greek-Catholic union with the Church of Rome. On 28 October 1948, Hossu was arrested in his episcopal residence in Cluj and taken to the patriarchal villa of Dragoslavele, where he was held under guard with the other Greek-Catholic bishops arrested in hunger and cold. Both the communist authorities and the leadership of the Romanian Orthodox Church representem by patriarch Justinian Marina personally proposed him the Orthodox metropolitan chair of Moldova in exchange for renouncing the Catholic faith and the connection with Rome and Catholic Church. Refusing to go to Orthodoxy, Bishop Iuliu Hossu was first transferred to Căldăruşani Monastery, and in 1950 to the Sighet Penitentiary. In 1955 he was taken to Curtea de Argeș, and in 1956 to the Ciorogârla Monastery.

Following the Greek-Catholic Liturgy celebrated at the Church of the Piarists in Cluj on 12 August 1956, the three alive united bishops were dispersed from Ciorogarla. During his forced domicile at Ciorogarla Monastery Hossu was regularly visited by Orthodox hierarchs, including Justinian Marina, Teoctist Arăpasu and Gherasim Cristea.[4]

Bishop Iuliu Hossu arrived again in Căldăruşani, where he stayed with compulsory residence until the end of his life. According to the memoirs of the Greek-Catholic priest Ioan Mitrofan, Andrei Andreicut was also among those who visited Cardinal Iuliu Hossu in Căldăruşani.[5]


Iuliu Hossu

On 28 April 1969 he was created a cardinal but Pope Paul VI reserved Hossu in pectore. His elevation to the rank of cardinal was announced on 5 March 1973 after Hossu's death. On 22 February 1969 the pope had granted a private audience to Monsignor Hieronymus Menges and the prelate asked Paul VI to do something that would encourage the faithful and give them a sign that the Romanian people were close to his heart. Paul VI asked: "what?" The prelate then recommended that the pope raise Hossu and future Servant of God Áron Márton as cardinals and to appoint some priests as monsignors.[6] Archbishop Agostino Casaroli sent his aide not long after this to Bucharest to ask the Minister for Culture whether or not the government would accept the two promotions. The government agreed to accept Márton but not Hossu as a cardinal. Márton learned of this and refused the honor when he learned that the government had rejected Hossu's appointment, with the result that Paul reserved Hossu in pectore and did not make Márton a cardinal.[6]


Hossu died on 28 May 1970 at 9:00am at Colentina Hospital in Bucharest with Bishop Alexandru Todea at his side. He was buried in Bucharest and his last words were recorded as being: "My struggle ends; yours continues". On 7 December 1982 his remains were exhumed and transferred.

Beatification processEdit

Hossu on a 2018 stamp of Romania

The beatification process – which conferred the title Servant of God upon him – commenced with the declaration of "nihil obstat" (nothing against) to the cause on 28 January 1997. The eparchial process delved into his life (and that of six other prelates in the joint cause) through the collection of documentation and testimonies. This process spanned from 16 January 1997 until 10 March 2009. The end of this local process saw all the findings taken in boxes to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome who validated the process on 18 February 2011. The relator was appointed on 27 May 2011 and helps in drafting the Positio dossier with the cause's officials. The dossier was submitted to the C.C.S. in April 2018.

There have been reports that a papal visit to Romania is planned for late 2018 and it has been said that Pope Francis shall preside over the beatification for Hossu and six others if and when he visits according to Archbishop Ioan Robu.

The current postulator for this joint beatification cause is Fr. Vasile Man. The current relator for the cause is the Conventual Franciscan friar Zdzisław Kijas.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "Servant of God Iuliu Hossu". Santi e Beati. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Bishop Iuliu Hossu". Catholic Hierarchy. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  3. ^ Sergiu Grosu (1992) Ordeal Christian Romania, ABC Literary Talk & DAVA, p. 36.
  4. ^ L-a turnat pe cardinalul Hossu la Securitate din... respect.
  5. ^ Ioan Mitrofan (2002) Memories That Hail Us, Buna Vestire Publishing, Blaj, p. 77.
  6. ^ a b "Consistory of April 28, 1969 (III)". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 7 August 2017.

External linksEdit