Josaphat Kuncewicz was born in Poland of noble parents in 1580 and went on to become the first great leader of the Ruthenian Catholics, or Uniates, the former schismatics who had returned to the Church through the treaty of Brest Litovsk in 1595. Entering the Order of St. Basil at twenty years of age, he thoroughly reformed it, giving it a more active character.
So well-known did the Saint’s wisdom and knowledge become that he was recommended to the Pope by his own people to rule over them as Archbishop of Polotsk in 1617. In this office, he campaigned intensively for the conversion of schismatics and for the reform of his own clergy, who were commonly ignorant and venal.
Through his boundless charity and powerful preaching, St. Josaphat established the ascendancy of the Uniate Church, but was soon marked for destruction by the schismatics. He was slain by Orthodox fanatics in 1623, at Vitebsk, and was canonized in 1687 by Pope Innocent XI.
PRAYER: God, stir uo in Your Church the Spirit that strengthened St. Josaphat to be able to lay down his life for his sheep. May we be strengthened by the same Spirit so that through Josaphat’s intercession we may be ready to lay down our lives for our brethren. Amen.