Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online


Feastday: October 20

Birth: 1897

Death: 1924

Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

The Blessed James Kern was born as Francis Alexander Kern in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, on April 16, 1897. As a young man he expressed a desire to lead a religious life and to become a priest. He was by all accounts a gifted child and at the young age of 11, permitted to enroll in the Minor Seminary in Hollabrunn.

While at seminary, the was known to spend his free time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. At age 14, he made a vow of perpetual chastity.

Kern completed his secondary studies in 1915 and then volunteered for the army. Although he had to adjust to life as a soldier, he still found time to maintain a daily devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He attended adoration every day.

On January 1, 1916, as war continued to ravage the nations of Europe, Kern attended adoration in the church of St. Blasé in Slazburg. During a forty-hour devotion there, he asked God to allow him to share in the suffering of Christ.

God answered his prayers by sending him to the Italian front as an officer. While serving in combat against Italian troops, Lieutenant Kern was struck through the chest with a bullet which pierced his lung. The wound was permanent; he would never recover.

During his convalescence, he entered a seminary in the Archdiocese of Vienna.

Following the close of the war and the breakup of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, political events in the newly-formed Czech Republic led to a schism in the Roman Catholic Church with the church there forming its own rite, insisting on modernization of the liturgy among other changes. The new church was infused with Protestant thought and remains in existence today with a membership exceeding 100,000 souls.

For Kern, the schism was heart-wrenching and he offered himself as a living atonement for Isidore Bogdan Zaradnik, a Norbertine canon and doctor of philosophy who broke away to lead the schism.

It was Kern's purpose to serve as an atonement for those who broke away from Rome.

On October 18, 1920, he took the name "James" when he received his Norbertine habit.

Kern was a devoted and pious member of his order and he took his religious life seriously. He was also a happy member, despite his poor health. His war wound continued to cause him pain and suffering.

On July 23, 1922, partly in acknowledgement of his lifelong desire, he was ordained as a priest and allowed to celebrate Mass at his abbey and neighboring churches. This portion of his phase lasted just a year when in 1923 doctors concluded that he had to have some of his ribs removed. The procedure was performed using only local anesthetic, so it caused extreme suffering.

He never fully recovered from the procedure and his physical health continued to deteriorate. Despite his suffering, he refused to take painkillers, and offered his suffering to Christ.

James Kern was scheduled to make his solemn vows in his order on October 20, 1923. Despite the commitment, he underwent another surgery that day. Before his operation, he predicted his passing saying that "Tomorrow I will see the Mother of God and my Guardian Angel." He asked for everything to be made ready for his final Communion, explaining that the last Communion should be as special and solemn as the first.

He died during the ringing of the noontime Angelus bell the same day.

Over the following decades, faithful Catholics came to his grave at Geras to pray for his intercession. Pope John Paul II beatified James Kern on June 21, 1998 during a visit to Vienna. Pope John Paul II referred to Kern and a hero of the Church and encouraged priests to follow his example and to be faithful to their vocation.

Bl. James Kern Comments

More Saints

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux

Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for their own lives than in volumes by theologians. ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia

In the fourth century a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian was written in glorification of virginal life with the purpose of taking the place of then-popular ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Maria Goretti

St. Maria Goretti

Born on October 16 1890 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona Province in Italy, her farmworker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. When he died of malaria, Maria's mother had to ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Bean

St. Bean

On December 16, there is named in the Roman Martyrology and in certain Irish calendars a Saint Bean in Ireland, who had been confused with the St. Bean whose feast is still observed in the Scottish ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of St. Isabel of France

St. Isabel of France

Sister of St. Louis and daughter of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile, she refused offers of marriage from several noble suitors to continue her life of virginity consecrated to God. She ministered to the sick and the poor, and after the death of her ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Margaret of Scotland

Margaret was an English princess. She and her mother sailed to Scotland to escape from the king who had conquered their land. King Malcolm of Scotland welcomed them and fell in love with the beautiful princess. Margaret and Malcolm were married before too long. As ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Leo the Great

St. Leo the Great

St. Leo the Great was born in Tuscany. As deacon, he was dispatched to Gaul as a mediator by Emperor Valentinian III. He reigned as Pope between 440 and 461. He persuaded Emperor Valentinian to recognize the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in an edict in 445. The ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of One of many icons of St. Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch: Model of Bravery, Man for our Times

By Billy Atwell

In the face of the current "witch-hunts" endured by some of our Bishops, let us remember a hero on October 17, the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  St. Ignatius of Antioch is a bishop and martyr of the Church who died in the year 107.  He was torn ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:1-9
1 Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 13-14
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2016 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman ... Read More