Father Josef Toufar was tortured and beaten to death for refusing to recant a miracle his parishioners had seen.
The incident occurred during the season of Advent in 1949. It was the early phase of the communist era in Czechoslovakia, when anti-catholic and anti-faith forces were gathering momentum.
Some parishioners reported to Fr. Toufar that they saw a cross at the altar in the church moving from one side to another several times. The event has come to be known as “the Cihost’ miracle.”
The state authorities were scared that the news of the miracle, if spread, will spoil their plans to eradicate Catholicism from the nation. The secret police of the state interrogated Fr. Toufar, and forced him to testify against the miracle by saying he had moved the cross himself.
The priest preferred to die rather than negating the miracle.
Enraged, the police beat him brutally. He was unable to speak, walk or sit. Later tortured until he would sign a document asserting his guilt, he died two months after the miracle took place.
After Fr. Toufar’s death, the Church was suppressed across the Soviet Union-led communist regime. All accounts of miracles and those who spoke of them were treated in way to be erased. The regime filmed a documentary, with an intention to prove the Cihost’ miracle was a forgery.
But, the truth could not be concealed for long. In spite of all the efforts of the communist regime to suppress the truth, the account of the Cihost’ miracle survived.
In last Februray, around 500 people gathered for Mass in his former parish of Cihost’ to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Fr. Toufar’s death. Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague, presided over the Mass. The church was so full with visitors from the entire country that they outnumbered the population of the village of Cihost’.
The remains of the priest have been exhumed from a mass grave near Prague. Once verified by scientists, they are set to be brought to Cihost’ during a July pilgrimage around the time of Fr. Toufar’s birthday. A popular demand is rising to elevate Father Toufar to the status of Catholic martyr.