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Martyrdom of Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1861) by Józef Simmler, National Museum in Warsaw

 

Feast of Saint Josaphat

(1580-1623)

St. Josaphat was born to a devout religious family of Ruthenian ancestry in what is now Ukraine, and was baptized in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He devoted his virginity to the Virgin Mary and grew in his reverence for ancient liturgy. During a revival of Eastern Catholic monastic life he became a monk in the Order of St. Basil, and was ordained to Holy Orders in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1609. He was noted for his life of asceticism, holiness, and virtue which led to his appointment as Archbishop of Polotsk in what is today Belarus. During his lifetime there was much sociopolitical and ecclesiastical rivalry between the Catholics and Orthodox, especially in the wake of the 1596 Union of Brest which saw the Ruthenian rite break with Orthodoxy and come under the authority of the Holy See. St. Josaphat was passionate about working for the reunification with Rome and won many heretics and schismatics back to communion with Rome. However, he was also strongly opposed to the Latinization of his people. This combination of views drew ire from both Catholic and Orthodox clergy. His diocese was contested by the Orthodox, and a rival Orthodox bishop was set up to oppose him, causing riots. During one uprising Josaphat tried to calm the tensions and work for reunification and peace, but his enemies plotted to kill him. A mob of Orthodox Christians entered Josaphat’s home, stabbed and axed his body and threw it into a river. His body was seen glowing in the water and was recovered. After his martyrdom many miracles were attributed to his intercession. Josaphat’s sacrifice became a blessing as regret and sorrow over his death converted many hearts toward reunification with the Catholic Church. In 1867 Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome.

His feast day is November 12.

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Lord, grant me the grace to shed my blood for the unity of the church and in behalf of obedience to the Holy See”

Saint Josaphat
St Josaphat Basilica, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Follow the saints because those who follow them will become saints.”

Saint Clement I, pope

Saint Josaphat, patron of reunion between orthodox and catholic, bishop, martyrpray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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