VIDEO: WWII – Shipboard Mass – 12 Feb 1945 before Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima – 7000 killed, 20,000 wounded, probably included some of these men.

This is some footage of a Mass on board LST-782, a Landing Ship – Tank.

Note the movement of the ship.

It was Mardis Gras that day.  One week later the battle would begin.

The priest looks a little like the new auxiliary bishop in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Andrew Cozzens.

I am sure I have a chasuble just like that somewhere in storage.

Biretta tip to Fr. GR. o{]:¬)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. sekman says:

    That particular chasuble must have been frequently used amongst military chaplains. I am also willing to bet that it is reversible white/black.

    Servant of God, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, is depicted wearing a very similar chasuble. If I recall there is a vestment similar to this preserved in the old parish rectory in Pilsen, KS where Fr. Kapaun was raised.

    You may recall that Chaplain Kapaun was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor a couple years ago. His cause for canonization is ongoing, as the diocesan phase has been completed.

    Here are a couple images.
    Image 1

    Image 2

  2. Patti Day says:

    Amazing footage. My dad was there. He would have been twenty-one or twenty-two. God bless all those young men who gave so much, even their lives, for our freedom.

  3. John Grammaticus says:

    rest in peace

  4. yatzer says:

    My dad was there also, about the same age at the time. He never said much about it.

  5. Kerry says:

    In his book Flags of our Fathers, the author remarks that for the entire 36 days, many Marines never saw a live Japanese soldier.
    The two greatest institutions in the world today, the Catholic Church and the Marine Corps. Viva Christo Rey! And oorah!

  6. msc says:

    It’s a great shame that the marvellous, very brave, work done by so many Chaplains during the wars has been mostly overlooked. They often were in greater danger than many of their soldiers as they tried to reach the hurt and wounded. They are a model for modern “muscular” Christianity. We need a good movie about one to get the ignorant masses thinking.

  7. Marissa says:

    If I remember correctly, only five chaplains after the Civil War have been awarded the Medal of Honor. All were Roman Catholic priests.

    Also, the award is called the Medal of Honor, no “Congressional”.

  8. iamlucky13 says:

    Thank you for bringing up Father Kapaun. I had not heard of him before.

    However, I’m often intrigued to read Medal of Honor citations, as every single one is an inspiring, even though often sad, true story that outshines anything Hollywood can produce. They often are similar to saint’s biographies (I pray that they may literally be saint’s biographies).

    For the US Army to choose to write such a citation for a priest, I figured it would be equally worth reading, and indeed it is:

    The deeds Medal of Honor recipients perform obviously reflect the virtue of charity, but even more, I’ve found these citations to invariably reflect profound examples of the virtue of humility, which among those who are recognized for their honor while alive, you can sense quite plainly.

    Which makes sense. What mere human who truly thought themselves superior to another would risk, much less sacrifice, their life for a lesser person? These people clearly saw their fellow soldiers equally as important as themselves.

    It’s even more humbling to me to continue from that reflection to Romans 5 and gain a hint of the relationship God intended for us by his Passion – truly something we do not merit on our own accord:
    “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

  9. Grumpy Beggar says:

    . . . Quite humbling to watch. One can only wonder what the words of the homily would’ve been.

  10. ASPM Sem says:

    When I saw the video image I was like “Oh cool, Bishop Cozzens” before my brain started working and realized he wasn’t born then.

  11. pelerin says:

    I received this video this morning via an email from ‘Riposte Catholique’ but did not know how to send it on to Fr Z’s blog. I am glad he has received it now – the concentration on the faces of those young American soldiers is so moving to witness after all these years. May those who perished later rest in peace.

  12. ghp95134 says:

    Marissa writes, “…If I remember correctly, only five chaplains after the Civil War have been awarded the Medal of Honor. All were Roman Catholic priests.…”

    I thought “The Four Chaplains” received the Medal of Honor, but indeed, they did not. According to Wiki:
    “…On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross [the second highest military award for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force].

    Congress also attempted to confer the Medal of Honor on each of the four chaplains, but the stringent requirements for that medal required heroism performed “under fire,” and the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of these men did not technically qualify, since their actions took place after the torpedo attack. Therefore, members of Congress decided to authorize a special medal intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor….”

    Nicknamed “The Chaplain Medal of Honor”


  13. AnnTherese says:

    War after war after war… such great sorrow suffered by so many. God of Love, may we learn to find and create peace–in our hearts, our relationships, our communities, our nation, our churches, our world. May our words and actions toward one another reflect peace–not the violence of judgments, put-downs, manipulation, and hostility. May we learn from Jesus the ways of mercy, forgiveness, and peacemaking. We pray, with utter faith in your goodness.

  14. Bob B. says:

    Reminds me of the Four Chaplains (aka: Immortal Chaplains or Dorchester Chaplains) who gave up their life vests when their ship was sinking because there weren’t enough to go around.
    Also, the “Grunt Padre” (Vincent Capodanno) during Vietnam. There were many Catholic chaplains who remain unheralded and some are very much remembered in the hears of many of us.

  15. thomas tucker says:

    @yatzer: that’s interesting. My father was in the South Pacific in the Navy in WWII, and he never talked about it either.

  16. joan ellen says:

    Thank you, AnnTherese, for your words are the same as my thoughts. Surely we can do better. Lord have mercy.

  17. NomenDeiAdmirabileEst says:

    Nice footage, though why is he not making the sign of the cross with the host as he distributes the sacred species? And yes, that does look a lot like Bishop Cozzens! It could have fooled me, especially after having seen him celebrate the TLM.

  18. Random Friar says:

    You scared me. I thought Donald Cozzens was made a bishop!

    I see Bishop Cozzen’s dissertation was titled, Imago vivens Iesu Christi sponsi Ecclesiae : the priest as a living image of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom of the Church through the evangelical counsels. Sounds wonderful!

  19. Mojoron says:

    Not to mention, the priest may be one of the dead as well. Many were killed in battle in WWII.

  20. Cincinnati Priest says:

    I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness upon watching this, realizing how things have changed for the worse in our military culture over the last 70 years.

    Especially in very recent years, with President B.O. and his ilk aggressively attempting to crush Christianity and Catholicism out of the military, encouraging sodomy within the ranks and more, a video like this simply could no longer be shot.

    How sad. What a tremendous ray of hope this holy Mass must have been for the men.

    You can see it in their eyes and faces as they so reverently received Our Lord in Holy Communion.

  21. Luvadoxi says:

    Nomen-it looks like there was a bit of a cut in the film before the distribution–maybe he did make the sign of the cross during that break in the film. I did see him make it earlier, although I’m not familiar with the extraordinary form and don’t know if he missed one somewhere!

  22. OdeM says:

    @ Nomen. My observation and hypothesis. The priest is giving communion out of the pyx, and not a ciborium. The way I learned it, when distributing Holy Communion, the sign of the cross is made over the ciborium or pyx, keeping the host within the circumference of the rim. The sign of the cross is either so small that it is not noticeable in the short clip, or, with the rocking of the ship and small size of the pyx, he may be concentrating on keeping his balance and/or giving extra care that no particles of the Eucharist fall onto the deck–a greater priority than the rubric of signing with the host. I have learned and am learning that the Mass back then was not as “impractical” or “inflexible” or “un-pastoral” as the enemies of it would like us to believe.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Those men look so young and were. God bless all who died. God bless the priest.

  24. Sonshine135 says:

    Needed this after seeing the tribulations our military men and women are being asked to put up with. Today, the Air Force admonished an officer who wrote about Jesus being an inspiration to him and his family. I also read on Lifesite about a transexual Army soldier who is suing after not being allowed to use the lady’s restroom. Lord help those who live to serve you, their family, and their country…. Spare them undue burden.

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