Holy Men and Boys
Title: The Servant of God Benjamin Salmon
Categories: Holy Men and Boys
Icon Number: TSGB083
The Servant of God Benjamin Salmon
Ben Salmon was born to a working class Catholic family in Denver, Colorado in 1889. From his youth he was given by the Holy Spirit a radical longing for the nonviolent message of Jesus Christ in the gospel, and the courage to bear this calling. These values were in terrible conflict with his times, yet he remained a devout Catholic, attending Mass and taking pride in his membership in the Knights of Columbus. In 1917 he married and he and his wife had three children, one became a priest and another a Maryknoll Sister.
When called to participate in World War I Salmon applied for a conscientious objector status but was rejected because the church had long ago formulated a `just war' theory. He was arrested in 1918, sentenced to death, then twenty-five years in prison. After two years, suffering physically (abuse and hunger), emotionally (isolation from everyone), and spiritually (mockery and slander), he was released from prison and sent to a hospital for the insane because of his prophecy and vocation.
Although his pacifism contradicted the moral theologians of the time, Salmon leaned on the early church and the witness of the Christian martyrs who gave their lives to oppose the idolatry of the Roman Empire. Salmon wrote a two hundred-page manuscript critiquing the just war theory, amazing for a man with no formal education beyond eighth grade.
Upon his release Salmon led a quiet life with his family but his prison ordeal had permanently affected his health and he died at age forty-three on 15 February 1932.
(taken from Robert Ellsberg's All Saints with additions by William Hart McNichols, S.J.)This icon is dedicated with love and admiration to Stephen Kelly, Elizabeth McAlister, Philip and Daniel Berrigan.