Bishop; b. Dabrowa Górniczna, Poland, Aug. 17, 1857; d. Jersey City, N.J., Feb. 17, 1926. After his mother's death (1859), Cieplak was reared by his maternal grandmother and by two priests. In 1869 he entered the Gymnasium at Kielce, and in 1873 began to study for the priesthood in the Latin rite. He pursued higher studies in St. Petersburg (1878) and was ordained (1881). In 1882 he became professor at the Catholic academy in St. Petersburg. He was consecrated bishop of Evaria and appointed auxiliary bishop of Mogilev (1908). After the Russian Revolution he became archbishop of Achrida and apostolic administrator of Mohilev in place of the imprisoned Archbishop Ropp (1919). Accused of conspiring with the papal nuncio in Warsaw, Cieplak was arrested as a counterrevolutionary and sentenced to death (1923). His sentence, however, was commuted through the intervention of the Holy See, the U.S. and British governments, and Edmund walsh, SJ. In 1924 Cieplak was transferred from Butyrki prison to Lubianka, and was soon after deposited penniless at the Latvian border. From Riga he went to Poland and then to Rome. In 1925 he began an extended tour of the United States, where in the course of three months he visited 375 parishes and 800 institutions in 25 dioceses. He was named archbishop of Vilna (then in Poland), but died as he was preparing to go there. His cause for beatification has been introduced, and the decretum super scripta was issued in 1960.
Bibliography: f. domanski, The Great Apostle of Russia: The Servant of God Archbishop John Baptist Cieplak (Chicago 1953). j. ledit, Archbishop Jan Baptist Cieplak (Montreal 1963).