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Nov. 12 St. Josaphat. Reflection for 11/12/09 www.apostleshipofprayer.org Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) (Belarusian: Язафат Кунцэвіч, Jazafat Kuncevič, Polish: Jozafat …More
Nov. 12 St. Josaphat.
Reflection for 11/12/09 www.apostleshipofprayer.org
Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) (Belarusian: Язафат Кунцэвіч, Jazafat Kuncevič, Polish: Jozafat Kuncewicz, Ukrainian: Йосафат Кунцевич, Josafat Kuntsevych) is a martyr and saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, born in the little town of Wlodzimierz Wolynski in the region of Volhynia, then part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1580 or 1584; he died at Vitebsk in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now in Belarus), 12 November 1623.
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Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) (Belarusian: Язафат Кунцэвіч, Jazafat Kuncevič, Polish: Jozafat Kuncewicz, Ukrainian: Йосафат Кунцевич, Josafat Kuntsevych) is a martyr and saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, born in the little town of Wlodzimierz Wolynski in the region of Volhynia, then …More
Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1580 – 12 November 1623) (Belarusian: Язафат Кунцэвіч, Jazafat Kuncevič, Polish: Jozafat Kuncewicz, Ukrainian: Йосафат Кунцевич, Josafat Kuntsevych) is a martyr and saint of the Roman Catholic Church, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, born in the little town of Wlodzimierz Wolynski in the region of Volhynia, then part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1580 or 1584; he died at Vitebsk in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now in Belarus), 12 November 1623.
Josaphat's birth occurred in a gloomy period for the then-unified Ruthenian Church. The legacy of the East-West schism still resonated, and two contending parties held power; the Greek-Catholic party, and those rejecting the Union — each with its own hierarchy. Among the leaders of the anti-union party, Meletius Smotrytsky was conspicuous, and the most celebrated of his opponents was Josaphat, who promoted Catholic unity with Rome.
Although of a noble Belarusian stock (szlachta), Josaphat's father had devoted himself to commercial pursuits, and held the office of town-councilor. Both parents encouraged religiosity and Christian piety in the young Josaphat. In the school at Volodymyr Josaphat — Ioann (John) was his baptismal name — gave evidence of unusual talent; he applied himself to the study of the Church Slavonic language, and learned almost the entire horologion by heart, which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, because the clergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction. Owing to the straitened circumstances of his parents, he was apprenticed to the merchant Papovič at Vilnius. In this Polish-Lithuanian city, divided through the contentions of the various religious sects, he became acquainted with men including Benjamin Rutski, under whose direction he furthered his interest in the Church.
In 1604, at the age of twenty-four, he entered the Monastery of the Trinity of the Basilian Fathers, at Vilnius. Stories of sanctity rapidly spread, and distinguished people began to visit him. After a notable life as a layman, Rutski also joined the order. When Josaphat reached the diaconate, regular services and labor for the Church had already been begun; the number of novices steadily increased, and under Rutski — who had meanwhile been ordained priest — there began the regeneration of Eastern Catholic religious life among the Ruthenians (Belarusians and Ukrainians). In 1609, after private study under Fabricius, a Jesuit priest, Josaphat was ordained priest by a Catholic bishop. He subsequently became the superior of several monasteries, and on November 12, 1617, was consecrated Bishop of Vitsebsk, with right of succession to the Archbishopric of Polotsk. He became archbishop in 1618.
As archbishop he restored the Byzantine churches; issued a catechism to the clergy with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Polish Imperial Chancellor Sapieha, when he wished to make many concessions in favour of the Eastern Orthodox. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his religious devotion as a monk, and never abated his desire for self-mortification.
Each succeeding year witnessed the steady growth of the conflict with the anti-union Eastern Orthodox party. Finally on November 12, 1623, an axe-stroke and a bullet fired from an Orthodox mob ended Josaphat's life.
[edit] Hagiography
As a boy he was said to have shunned the usual games of childhood, prayed much, and lost no opportunity to assist at the Church services. Children especially regarded him with affection. As an apprentice, he devoted every leisure hour to prayer and study. At first Papovič viewed this behavior with displeasure, but Josaphat gradually won such a position in his esteem, that Papovič offered him his entire fortune and his daughter's hand. But Josaphat's love for the religious life never wavered.
His favourite devotional exercise was to make prostrations in which the head touches the ground, saying: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' Never eating meat, he fasted much, wore a hair shirt and an angular chain, slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.
From his zealous study of the Slavonic-Byzantine liturgical books he drew many proofs of Catholic doctrine, using his knowledge in the composition of several original works — On the Baptism of St. Volodymyr; On the Falsification of the Slavic Books by the Enemies of the Metropolitan; On Monks and their Vows. As deacon, priest, and bishop, he was distinguished by his extraordinary zeal in performing the Church services and by extraordinary devotion during the Divine Liturgy. Not only in the church did he preach and hear confessions, but likewise in the fields, hospitals, prisons, and even on his personal journeys. This zeal, united with his kindness for the poor, won great numbers of Orthodox Ruthenians for the Catholic faith and Catholic unity. Among his converts were included many important personages such as Ignatius, former Patriarch of Moscow, and Emmanuel Cantacuzenus, who belonged to the imperial family of the Byzantine Emperor Palaeologus.
[edit] Canonization
After numerous miracles were claimed and reported, a commission was appointed by Pope Urban VIII in 1628 to inquire into the cause of Josaphat, and examined on oath by 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat's death, his body was claimed to still be incorrupt. In 1637, a second commission investigated his life, and in 1643, twenty years after his death, Josaphat was beatified. His canonization finally took place in the year 1867 by Pope Pius IX.

The Basilica of St. Josaphat
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church keeps his feast day on the first Sunday after November 12. (This Church uses the Julian Calendar, whose November 12 now corresponds to the Gregorian Calendar November 25.) When, in 1867, Pope Pius IX inserted his feast into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, it was assigned to November 14, which was the first free day after November 12, which was then occupied by the feast of "Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr." In Pope Paul VI's 1969 revision of the calendar, this latter feast was moved to Pope Saint Martin's dies natalis (birthday to heaven), and Saint Josaphat's feast was moved to that date, his own dies natalis.[1] Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the feast day of "St Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr" on November 14.[2]
Legacy
St Josaphat Kuntsevich is the patron saint of a number of Polish parishes in the United States, most notably the Basilica of St. Josaphat, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St Josaphat's parish in Chicago, Illinois. A relic is on display in the "catacombs" of Holy Trinity Polish Mission in Chicago.
See also

Saints portal
Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska - Foundress and Missionary under patronage of St. Josaphat
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josaphat_Kuntsevych