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Saint Josaphat

Bishop and Martyr

Josaphat Kuntsevitch was born of Catholic parents of good family, about 1580, in the town of Vladmir in Lithuania. As a child he was much moved when his mother told him of the passion of Christ, and the love of the Crucified pierced him to the heart. At the age of twenty he was professed amongst the cloistered Basilian monks. He went barefoot even in the severe winter of that country, never ate meat, drank wine only when obliged by obedience, and afflicted his body with a rough hairshirt until his death. He soon was so renowned for godliness and learning that, in spite of his youth, he was made Superior of the monastery of Byten; soon afterwards he became Archimandrite of Vilna; and lastly, he was appointed Archbishop of Polotsk.

Josaphat worked much to promote the union of the Greek and Latin Churches. The revenues for his table he voluntarily expended on the restoration of the beauty of God's house, the building of convents for consecrated virgins, and the assistance of every good work. So bountiful was he to the poor that once, having nothing wherewith to supply the needs of a certain widow, he ordered his Omophorion, or Episcopal pallium, to be pawned.

The progress made by the union between Catholics of the Greek and Latin Rites in such wise stirred up certain wicked men that they conspired together to murder this athlete of Christ. To this end they broke into the archiepiscopal palace, striking and wounding all whom they found. But the kind man whom they sought ran to meet them, saying: My children, why strike ye my servants? If ye have aught against me, here I am. Then they overwhelmed him with blows, pierced him with spears, and at length despatched him with a huge axe, and threw his body into the river. This was done on November 12, 1623, in the forty-third year of his age. The blood of this Martyr straitway brought good to his murderers, for being condemned to death, they nearly all abjured, repenting of their crime and sins. In 1867 he was formally canonized, and his feast was set for Catholics of the Latin Rite for November 14th, although in the Eastern Rite it is kept on the day of his death.

Collect

RAISE up, O Lord, we pray thee, in thy Church the Spirit whereby blessed Josaphat thy Martyr and Bishop laid down his life for the sheep: that, by his intercession, we, being moved and strengthened by the same, may not fear to lay down our lives for our brethren. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1562-1563

Additional Information:

The Anglican Breviary is available at the Anglican Breviary website.

The Ordo Kalendar may be purchased from the Anglican Parishes Association.