Today, among the saints the Church commemorates the Hieromartyr Gorazd of Prague executed by the Nazis in 1942.
While the Nazis were consolidating the territories they conquered in the early years of World War II, on May 27, 1942, members of the Czech resistance who had parachuted into Czechoslovakia assassinated SS Obergruppenfuhrer and Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most feared Nazis leaders and some thought a possible successor to Hitler. The assassins took refuge in Saints Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Cathedral in Prague. The Nazis eventually discovered them there and stormed the Cathedral. Orthodox Church leaders and scholars Fr Jaroslav and Eva Suvarsky describe what then took place:
During the storming of the cathedral, the priests Vladimir Petrek and Vaclav Cikl, the chairman of the council of elders Jan Sonnevend, and the sacristan Vaclav Ornest were arrested along with their families. Bishop Gorazd was soon informed of the arrests and the storming of the cathedral. The next day, 19 June 1942, he immediately wrote three letters addressed to the Prime Minister Dr. Jaroslav Krjci, the Minister of Education and National Culture Emanuel Moravec, and the office of the Reichsprotektor. In order to save the church and the lives of those arrested, and in order to bring an end to the victims of the terror, Bishop Gorazd wrote, ‘I surrender my person to the relevant authorities and I am ready to undergo any punishment, even death.’ He elected to follow the path of self-sacrifice, with which we are familiar from the biographies of the holy martyrs who sacrifice their lives for others because of their faith in Jesus Christ. However, he received no answer to his letter. On Thursday 25 June at 5:00 a.m. he was arrested and then subjected to several months of torture.
On the day before the arrest of Bishop Gorazd, 24 June 1942, in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heidrich, the Nazis shot 33 adults from the village of Lezaki and deported 14 children to Germany. The village was raised to the ground.
On 3 September 1942, the trial of the representatives of the Czech Orthodox Church took place in Prague. The following day, 4 September 1942, Bishop Gorazd, the priest Vaclav Cikl and the chairman of the council of elders Jan Sonnevend were executed by firing squad on the execution site in the Kobylisy area of Prague at 2:35 p.m. The second priest, Dr Vladimir Petrek, was executed by firing squad the following day, 5 September 1942, at 12 noon. The German Gestapo assembled in the small fortress in Terezin, a further 263 people of Czech nationality, who had been arrested for having aided the parachutists. On 22 October 1942 they were transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp, and on 24 October all these people were shot to death in a single day. . . .
On 27 September 1942, the Reichsprotektor in Bohemia and Moravia issued an edict whereby the parishes of the Czech Orthodox Church were closed down and their property was confiscated by the Reich. The Orthodox priests were taken away by the Gestapo to be put to forced labor in Germany, and the faithful were deprived of their pastors. . . .
The martyrdom of Gorazd, the first Orthodox Bishop in the Czech lands, Moravia and Silesia, brought to a violent end his 21 years of ministry in these lands. The faithful and priests of our Church, together with their bishop, sacrificed themselves for the sake of their people and their nation, whose future they believed in. In 1987 Bishop Gorazd was proclaimed a saint (canonized) by the local Orthodox Church. (A NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO THE HEROES OF THE HEYDRICH TERROR: A PLACE OF RECONCILIATION, pp 8-10)
See also my post Martyr Gorazd of Prague.