MONDAY, the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, was the 70th birthday of Archbishop Reran of Prague, who for nearly ten years has been prevented from exercising his office by the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia.
The archbishop was last heard of in October when he was reported to be in the prison hospital at Budejovice, suffering from coronary trouble and pneumonia. This was about his 20th change of confinement since the Communists placed him under house arrest on June 19, 1949.
Born in Pilsen, the son of a schoolteacher, Josef Beran studied at the Bohemian and Propaganda Colleges at Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1911. In 1933 he was appointed rector of the Prague seminary. A fervent Czech patriot, he SCirupulously avoided any political co-operation with the Nazi occupiers of his country from 1938 onwards, while at the same time ensuring that he could not be accused of any direct participation in resistance activities.
He was arrested by the Gestapo on June 6, 1942, mainly because he stood in the' way of the S.S. requisitioning the seminary buildings. Soon afterwards he was sent to Dachau, from which he was freed by the Americans in 1945.
He was appointed Archbishop of Prague by Pope PI118 XII in 1946, but it was not long before
he was again subject to persecution when the Communists seized power in February, 1948. He firmly refused to recognise Communist laws which aimed at subjecting the life of the Church to the power of the State, and was placed under house arrest at his episcopal residence in Prague in 1949. In March, 1951, he was moved to an unknown place outside the capital.