Francis Alexander Kern from Vienna became a soldier in 1915 and returned from
the First World War severely wounded. He was vested in the Premonstratensian
Abbey of Geras on October 18, 1920. Frater James was ordained to the priesthood
on July 23, 1922 and worked as a committed minister in the parishes around Geras.
He viewed the excruciating pain due to his war wounds as atonement for the aberrations
of a confrere who shortly before had founded the Czech National Church. At his
first Mass James Kern said that “the passion would follow this Palm Sunday”.
His sermons came from his heart and touched his listeners; the charism and the
authentic life of the “good Father James” fascinated people. In
1923 three of his ribs had to be removed under local anesthesia. His way of
the cross began. He spent a few months in Merano to recuperate. After his return
to Lower Austria he took up his ministry activity again but his condition worsened.
Once again he was brought to the hospital where he had to suffer a great deal.
On October 20, 1924, the day planned for his solemn profession, he was operated
on for the last time. James Kern died at midday as the bells rang for the Angelus:
“Receive me, O Lord, and I will live” – this he would have
sung three times at his profession.
Beatification: June 21, 1998 by John Paul II.
Representation: as a student, soldier and Premonstratensian, with a thorn-crowned heart, as giving a blessing.
For information to the current canonization process Causae of the Order.