Biography of Servant of God, Father Janis Mendriks, MIC

Biographical Description: Fr. Janis Mendriks was born in Latvia, near Aglona, January 21, 1907. He entered the Congregation of the Marians [of the Immaculate Conception] in 1926. He made his perpetual vows January 6, 1933. He graduated from the Catholic gymnasium and seminary in Aglona and was ordained on April 3, 1938, at St. Jakob’s Cathedral in Riga. He served in various parishes. In 1942, during his tenure at the parish in Ostron (Latvia), he refused a Christian burial for a German police officer who was known to have been having an affair. The Nazis wanted to kill him and he was forced to go into hiding until the end of the war. After the war, when the territory was occupied by Soviet forces, he once again took up his pastoral ministry. In 1950 he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in the camps. Sent to Vorkuta, Komi Republic, where he worked as a coal miner. While in prison he secretly nourished the faithful, celebrated Mass and gave them the Blessed Sacrament, which he always secretly carried with him. After Stalin’s death the convicts, hoping for release, refused to go to work. When the authorities were not able to get them to submit, they decided to liquidate them. Fr. Mendriks remained with them in order to prepare them for their death, knowing that he would be killed along with them. He was in the first rows of those who were shot by soldiers on August 1, 1953. The Marian Fathers maintain that he died a martyr’s death. He is one of sixteen candidates included in the cause of “Catholic New Martyrs of Russia” opened in 2003. Sources: Katolicheskie Novomucheniki Rossii [Catholic New Martyrs of Russia]; see also <Great Figures> and