Father Godfrey Holbein, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1899-1929)

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Born Claude Holbein on February 4, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of Frank L. Holbein and Mary Kelly. His father died when he was young. He was educated at St. Joseph’s Monastery School, Baltimore from which he graduated June 1911. That August he entered the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, St. Mary’s, Dunkirk, New York. He professed his vows in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 16, 1917. Studies were done Scranton, Pennsylvania, Brighton, Massachusetts; Scranton again; and then West Hoboken, New Jersey. He volunteered for China , was accepted and received training in Pittsburgh in theology as well as first aid from Dr. Rectenwald. Holbein was ordained a priest on October 28, 1923 by Bishop Boyle of Pittsburgh. For a while he preached in Pittsburgh and then set sail for China from San Francisco on the President Wilson, July 22, 1924. Father Holbein made it to the interior Hunan, China. He found the mission life difficult and expressed some desire to return to the United States. In 1928 he was assigned to the mission at Supu, Hunan as an assistant to Father Flavian Mullins, C.P. In 1928 he was forced to evacuate due to military troubles. He was killed by bandits at Hua Chiao. Also killed were Fathers Clement Seybold, C.P. and Walter Coveyou, C.P. They had just completed their annual retreat at Shenchowfu and were going back to their mission post. He was proclaimed by the Catholic press in the United States as a martyr.

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