Saturday, November 12, 2005

St. Josaphat (1580-1623)
Saint Josaphat was born in Ukraine of Orthodox parents, but embracing the Catholic faith, he became a Basilian monk. Ordained to the priesthood and chosen bishop of Polock, he worked faithfully for the unity of the East and West Churches. Many Orthodox monks and people did not want this re-union and enemies plotted his death. He was martyred in 1623. When Josaphat went to calm the tumult of the people who were opposed to unity, he knew well that his hour had come, and he was most cruelly assassinated and his body profaned; he was in his forty-fourth year. His mortal remains were recovered after five days from the waters of a river, and exposed for nine days, constantly emitting a fragrance of roses and lilies. A councillor of Polotsk, where the body was returned, abandoned the schism merely at the sight of the archbishop’s beautiful countenance. Many of the parricides struck their breasts, and did likewise. The Archbishop had gone gladly to his death, offering his life that the schism might end; he had said as much beforehand. Four years after his death the author of the troubles, Smotritski, the false archbishop, after many combats made a decisive step and consecrated his life to penance, prayer and the defense of the Union. Such changes of heart are indeed the greatest of miracles, won by the sanctity of the true servants of God.
About five years after Saint Josaphat’s martyrdom his body was found intact, though the clothing had rotted away. Again in 1637 it was still white and supple. A beautiful silver reliquary was made for it, with a life-size image of the reclining Saint surmounting it. The body was again exposed intact in 1767. It was eventually taken to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Pope Leo XIII canonized Saint Josaphat in 1867.
Sources: The Incorruptibles, by Joan Carroll Cruz (Tan Books and Publishers: Rockford, 1977)
Our Lady, who sheds tears from her Icons, said to Mirna, a seer in Egypt:
I have said: The Church is
the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
He who divides it has done wrong,
and he who rejoices in its division
has also done wrong.
My children, be united.
My feast is when I see all of you
gather together.
Your prayer is My feast.
Your faith is My feast.
The unity of your hearts is My feast.
Could it be any plainer? God wants the Churches united, it is His Will. What do we want? Jesus prayed for our unity at the Last Supper: "Holy Father, keep them in Your Name that You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are." (St. John 17:11)
Let us pray daily for this unity that Jesus and Mary so desire! May Almighty God be glorified in this re-union!