Son of Dèsirè, a baker, and Josefa; Edward was one of eleven children; one brother became a priest, five sisters were nuns. Raised in a pious and hard working family, Edward was an energetic, almost hyperactive child, but an excellent student who early felt a call to the priesthood. His father died in January 1907, and Edward wanted to take over the family business, but his mother insisted that he continue his studies. Seminarians were subject to military service, and in September 1910 Edward was drafted; being a seminarian made him the target for much harassment. He entered the seminary in Leuven, Belgium on 13 March 1912, and in Ghent in September 1913. He served as battlefield nurse during World War I, during which his health was nearly ruined, and his prayers to Saint Joseph led to the miraculous freeing of several prisoners of war.
Ordained on 1 May 1916. Associate pastor at Saint Collette’s in Ghent, a struggling parish where he had strong ministry to the poor, children and the dying; taught catechism, founded Eucharistic associations, and worked against the secularization of life in his city. His health still suffering, he was transferred to rural Moerzeke, Belgium where he served from 1918 to 1922 as rector of a religious community. He suffered a heart attack on 11 May 1919, and spent his recuperation studying, praying, and writing hundreds of articles and thousands of letters against Marxism, secularism, and materialism. Edward developed a devotion to Saint Therese of Lisieux, visiting her tomb in 1920, and adopting her “little way”. He organized teachers in an evangelization campaign, and his home became a center of organization, prayer and spiritual rebirth. Began service as spiritual director of seminarians doing military service in October 1922. He suffered another heart attack on 1 January 1924, and his health deteriorated rapidly, but he worked tirelessly in his remaining months, encouraging the laity and seminarians.
Have you ever noticed the halo of light that surrounds holy priests and illuminates all those in their presence? They bring about such transformations by the silent preaching of their holy life! How many imitators they draw in their wake, attracting them by their priestly ideal! May Jesus favor us with entering into contact with such a priest! – Blessed Edward Poppe
According to the divine plan, action must be fed with prayer. The interior life is the wellspring of the apostolate. Do not believe in the slogan, ‘The priest is sanctified in sanctifying others’ – it’s an illusion. The real formula is, ‘Sanctify yourself so as to sanctify others.’ – Blessed Edward Poppe
Remember Your sufferings, Jesus. Remember Your love, and the innocence of the little ones! Send us Your priests! – Blessed Edward Poppe
- “Blessed Edward Joannes Maria Poppe“. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 June 2009. Web. 25 April 2015. <>