In the pre-dawn hours on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Conventual Franciscan Friar Father Ignatius Maternowski parachuted behind enemy lines into the Normandy region of German-occupied France, as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army. During the massive air landing there was great carnage and casualties were mounting.
Immediately, Father Ignatius began ministering to the wounded paratroopers and glider victims. Realizing that dead and wounded soldiers were overflowing the house that served as the makeshift American infirmary, Father Ignatius negotiated with his German counterpart to recognize their infirmary as a non- combatant medical facility protected under the Geneva Convention.
After his meeting with the German medic, Father Ignatius headed back to the infirmary, unarmed, helmet hanging from his belt, and Red Cross armband on his sleeve. As he walked through the no man’s land to the American side, he was shot in the back by an enemy’s bullet — becoming the only US chaplain killed on D-Day. He was only 32 years of age, in the 5th year of his Franciscan priesthood.
“Dear Companion, the Friars invite you to join our efforts to honor the memory of Father Ignatius Maternowski, as well as your loved ones who have served, or are serving, in the armed forces. You are especially invited to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice – laying down their lives for our country, our families, our friends, and the blessings of our freedom.”
To honor their memory, a stunning stained-glass window has been designed featuring the likeness of Father Ignatius by renowned artist, Joseph K. Beyer of Beyer Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The cost to design, paint, select and cut glass, as well as ship and install the commemorative stained-glass window is over $30,000. And, we need the help of our Companions to help honor Father Ignatius and those heroes most dear to you. Can we count on your support?
Call to mind your loved ones who you wish to honor through this unique stained-glass memorial opportunity—and make a generous gift today. Send us the names of your loved ones who have already served, or are serving now, and they will be remembered at the Friars’ special Mass of Honor in Normandy, France, on June 6, 2020 as we inaugurate this historic stained-glass memorial to Fr. Ignatius, the heroes of D-Day, and all our servicemen and women. †
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