The Martyrdom of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych

St. Josaphat Kuntsevych’s effort to reunite the Ruthenian Church with Rome led to his murder by an angry mob on November 12th in 1623. A large group of angry Orthodox disuniates stormed his residence in Vitebsk (in modern Belarus), beat him to death, dragged him naked through the city, tied rocks to his body, and cast him into the river. Ninety-three people were sentenced to death for the attack.

The body was later recovered from the river and is buried under the altar of St. Basil the Great in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. His martyrdom was part of the turmoil following the Union of Brest, in which the the Eastern churches of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth returned to union with Rome.

St. Josaphat, pray for Christian unity.

Art: Martyrdom of Josaphat Kuntsevych (c. 1861) by Józef Simmler

Photo: The reliquary of St. Josaphat (1982, by Rev. Dr. Athanasius McVay), revealed for inspection.