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Josaphat Kuncevyč, St.


"Apostle of Union" and martyr; b. Wlodzimir, then in the Polish Province of Wolyn, c. 158082; d. Witebsk, Nov. 12, 1623. Sent to Wilno as an apprentice tradesman, he came under the influence of those clergy adhering to the Union of brest, entered a Basilian monastery (1604), and was ordained in 1609. He achieved quick advancement in his order through his ability as a speaker and the example of his zealous religious life. His success in winning adherents to the cause of the Union brought him the bishopric of Witebsk in 1617, with the right of succession to the archbishopric of Polotsk. In his new capacity, his efforts on behalf of the Union were so successful that within a short time the greater part of the Orthodox within Lithuania were won to the Union and the position of the Church greatly improved; however, as a result of the efforts of Peter Sahaidachny, the leader of the Cossacks, a new Orthodox hierarchy was named in Lithuania and a more effective opposition to the activities of the Eastern Catholics was organized, directed primarily against Kuncevyč and his followers. Despite the fact that King Sigismund III wavered in his support of the Eastern Catholics during this phase of the struggle with the schismatics, Kuncevyč succeeded in holding his own and even in having Meleti[symbol omitted] smotryts'kyǏ, the newly named Orthodox archbishop of Polotsk, deposed. Shortly thereafter, Kuncevyč suffered a martyr's death at the hands of an enraged mob during a sharp outbreak against the Eastern Catholics of Witebsk. His remains were recovered from the Dnieper River and interred at Biala, in Podlasie. Kuncevyč was beatified in 1643 and canonized in 1867.

Feast: Nov. 12 (formerly 14).

Bibliography: S. Josaphat Hieromartyr, documenta romana beatificationis et canonizationis, ed. a. g. welykyj, 2 v. (Rome 195255). n. contieri, Vita di S. Giosafat arcivescovo e martire Ruteno dell' ordine di S. Basilio il Grande (Rome 1867). g. hoffmann, "Der hl. Josaphat," Orientalia Christiana, 1 (1923) 297320; 3 (192425) 173239. a. guÉpin, Un Apôtre de l'union des églises au XVII e siècle: St. Josaphat et l'église gréco-slave en Pologne et en Russie, 2 v. (Rome 1897). t. boresky, Life of St. Josaphat (New York 1955). Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 15 (1923) 4963. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:337340. Cambridge History of Poland, ed. w. f. reddaway et al., 2 v. (Cambridge, Eng. 194150) v.1.

[e. kusielewicz]

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