Spirituality for Today – Fall 2019 – Volume 24, Issue 1

Saint for November 2019
Josaphat Kuncevyc – November 12

There is little information on his childhood and youth. He was born around 1580 in Volodymyr in the Ukraine. At that time, the area was part of the Polish Kingdom. He came from an Eastern Orthodox family with long merchant traditions. As a young man, he traveled to Vilnius to learn the merchant's profession and run his family's business. At that time, the city was flourishing, especially since 1578 when it became an academic center. Its residents, like residents of Volodymyr, represented many nationalities and religions. In that diversity Josaphat sought the truth as the basis of unity, particularly for Christians of various denominations.

He welcomed the Lublin Union of 1596 that, while respecting the character and beauty of Eastern Orthodox liturgy, repealed doctrinal divisions between its followers and Catholics, uniting them in a single Church. Josaphat became a monk in a Basilian monastery supporting the Union in Vilnius.

Josaphat was a monk when he came to Polotsk (Great Lithuanian Duchy, now Belarus) in 1617, where he became the igumen (abbot) and later a bishop. He used his deep theological knowledge and great love to unite city residents who were divided over religion. This annoyed some Eastern Orthodox believers. In the atmosphere of growing hostility, Josaphat was brutally murdered on November 12, 1623 by Eastern Orthodox Cossacks. He was beatified in 1642 and Bl. Pius IX canonized him in 1867.

You called St. Josaphat Kuncevyc
to witness to Your love
for the divided and feuding Christians.
Grant that through his intercession
those who believe in You
always live in brotherly love.
Through Christ our Lord.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives