On Saturday last, April 26th, the Dominican Order celebrated the beatification of an Italian friar who led an extraordinary life.
Born in Alba, Italy, in 1905, Girotti entered the Dominican seminary at Chieri at the age of 13 and took his vows in 1923. He was ordained in 1930 and continued his studies in Sacred Scripture at the Angelicum in Rome and the École Biblique in Jerusalem, where he was a student of Marie-Joseph Lagrange. He then became a professor of Sacred Scripture at the Dominican seminary in Turin.
Following the Nazi occupation of Italy in 1943, Girotti became part of an underground network that provided aide to Italian Jews, including helping them find places to hide from the authorities and providing them with false papers. The following year, he was arrested after being caught in the act of aiding a wounded Jewish person and eventually sent to the concentration camp at Dachau.
According to his fellow inmates, Girotti distinguished himself in the camp by his generosity and his gentleness. Under the harsh conditions, he soon fell ill and was transferred to the infirmary, where he died on 1 April 1945. He was likely killed by a lethal injection of gasoline, as was common treatment of ill prisoners at the time.
Following his death, his fellow prisoners carved into his bunk: “Here slept Saint Giuseppe Girotti”.
In 1995, the State of Israel posthumously recognized him as Righteous Among the Nations for his efforts to protect Italian Jews.