Ordinary Time: November 12th
Memorial of St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
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Because of the Lord’s covenant and the ancestral laws, the Saints of God persevered in loving brotherhood, for there was always one spirit in them, and one faith.
Gospel Verse, Jn 15:9b, 5b:
Remain in my love, says the Lord; whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
Communion Antiphon, Mt 10:39:
Whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it in eternity, says the Lord.
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Josaphat (1580-1643), a Catholic of the Ruthenian rite. He was an apostle of the return of the Orthodox schismatics to the Church of Rome. Born in the then Polish region of Lithuania of Orthodox parents, he became a Catholic and a Ukrainian Basilian monk. Chosen bishop, he worked faithfully for the unity of the Church until he suffered martyrdom at the hands of an angry mob in Russia in 1623 at the age of forty-three. He is one of the patrons of Poland.
Josaphat Kuncewitcz was born about the year 1580 at Vladimir, Volhynia, [part of the Polish province of Lithuania at the time] and given the name John at baptism. While being instructed as a child on the sufferings of our Savior, his heart is said to have been wounded by an arrow from the sacred side of the Crucified. In 1604 he joined the Ukrainian Order of Saint Basil (Basilians), lived as a monk in a very mortified life, went barefoot even in winter, refrained from the use of wine and flesh-meat, and always wore a penitential garb. In 1614 he was appointed archimandrite of Vilna, Russia and four years later archbishop of Polotzk; in this position he worked untiringly for Church reunion. He was a great friend of the poor, once even pledged his archepiscopal omophorion (pallium) to support a poor widow. The foes of union decided to assassinate him. In a sermon, he himself spoke of his death as imminent. When he visited Vitebsk (now in Russia), his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, "My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am." With furious cries of "Kill the papist!", they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat's body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented their crime and became Catholics.
- Pray to St. Josaphat for the reunion of the separated Eastern Churches.
- Read Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on the Eastern Churches, Orientale Lumen.
- Read more about St. Josaphat from
- Read Pius XI's Encyclical Ecclesiam Dei on St. Josaphat and Pius XII's encyclical Orientales Omnes Ecclesias (On The Reunion Of The Ruthenian Church With Rome).
- Learn more about the different Eastern Rites which are in union with the Pope.
- Josaphat is the patron saint of Ukraine, but his life has Russian, Polish and Lithuanian influences. The recipes section has several highlighted recipes from these different regions.