Search
  • Sarah Raad

Kapaun

Father Kapaun was a soul who suffered cheerfully and with courage, and that is surely the greatest sign of the GOODNESS of God that I have ever seen…

During the Korean War in 1950, Father Emile Kapaun was a Catholic Priest who was a chaplain with the US army. During the Battle of Unsan, after the US army had ordered their troops to withdraw, Father Kapaun continued to go out onto the battlefield to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to dying soldiers and to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to them before they died. Finally, as the Chinese Communist army continued advancing and the casualties were growing due to the ferocity of the attack, Father Kapaun chose to surrender to the Chinese army. In doing so he (and fifteen other soldiers) were captured. However, this surrender meant that over forty US soldiers were saved from the advancing army.


And I have been thinking about Father Kapaun a lot since I read a small article about his life. You see, during the seven months that he spent in prison camps, Father Kapaun survived on only birdseed and snow. Father Kapaun carried wounded soldiers on his back for over 200 kilometres in freezing temperatures. Every day, Father Kapaun visited over 200 soldiers, tending to their wounds, and passing around his pipe, encouraging them and leading them in the rosary. He called the soldiers, “my boys” and served them tirelessly – stealing food for them, building fires for them, waking up early to repair pots to boil water in and washing their clothes for them. And – of course – he celebrated Holy Mass for them in secret. And knowing all of this, his “boys” spoke his name with reverence!


You see, while he was imprisoned by the Chinese, Father Kapaun continued to do the work that God had given to him in the moment that it was given – thinking not of the future or of the past, but trusting entirely to God’s mercy. He continued to administer the sacraments. He continued to care for the needy. He continued to take care of the other prisoners. In fact – apart from the starvation and abuse – there was not really anything very different about the life that Father Kapaun lived while he was imprisoned and the life that he lived prior to that imprisonment...


On 23 May 1951, Father Kapaun died of maltreatment in a Pyoktong death house. In 1993 he was named, “Servant of God”. In 2013 he received the Medal of Honour posthumously for his actions at the Battle of Unsan.

Father Kapaun saved – literally – hundreds of lives through his heroic bravery!

And upon reflection of his life, I have to wonder, how many hundreds of souls did this same heroism allow him to save? For Father Kapaun was a soul who suffered cheerfully and with courage, and that is surely the greatest sign of the GOODNESS of God that I have ever seen… It surely is…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.


6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All