November 12, St Josaphat (Jozafat)

November 12
Obligatory memorial

Josaphat (Jozafat) Kuncewicz was born in Włodzimierz Wołyński about 1580 of Orthodox parents. He converted to the Catholic faith and entered the Basilian Order. With time, he became a priest and Archbishop of Połock. He developed a zealous missionary work. He died as a martyr in Witebsk on 12 November 1623.

Common of One Martyr, or of Pastors.

[PDF Version]



From the encyclical of Pope Pius XI “Ecclesiam Dei”
(AAS 15 [1923] 573-582)
He Shed Blood for Unity

The Church of God, by a wondrous act of Divine Providence, was so fashioned as to become in the fullness of time an immense family which embraces all men. The Church possesses-a fact known to all-as one of its visible marks, impressed on it by God, that of a world-wide unity. Christ, Our Lord, not only entrusted to His Apostles and, to them alone, the mission which He had received from His Father when he said: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations.” He also wished the College of Apostles to possess perfect unity, a unity based on a twofold and well-knit bond, one bond internal, that of the selfsame faith and charity which is “poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”; the other external, that of the rule of one of the Apostles over all the others, for He conferred upon Peter a primacy over the Apostles as a perpetual principle and visible foundation for the Church’s unity. In order that this unity and concord might be perpetuated forever, God, in His supreme providence consecrated it, so to speak, by the seal of sanctity and of martyrdom.

The great privilege of being both a saint and martyr belongs to Josaphat, Archbishop of Polotsk, of the Eastern Slavic Rite, who is rightly looked upon as the glory and support of the Eastern Slavs. Certainly it would be difficult to discover another man who has brought greater luster to his people or who has done more for their eternal welfare than he, their pastor and apostle. This is particularly evidenced by the fact that he shed his very blood in order to preserve the unity of Holy Church. He was quick to realize that the cause of unity would be greatly served by the return to the Catholic Church of those who followed the Eastern Slavic Rite and of the Basilian monks.

Having greatly at heart the reunion of his compatriots with the Chair of Peter, he sought to discover arguments which would help to promote and to make secure this union. For this reason he studied principally the liturgical books which the Orientals and even the Schismatics use, according to the regulations laid down by the Holy Fathers of the Church. Having thus prepared himself well, he began firmly but with kindness to plead the cause of the restoration of unity. His success was immediate, so much so that even his adversaries bestowed upon him the title “winner of souls.”[1]

RESPONSORY John 17:11; 23; 22

Jesus said, Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
So that they may be one and the world may know that you sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave me.
So that they may be one and the world may know that you sent me.


O Almighty God,
awaken in your Church the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat who laid down his life for the sheep,
so that we, through his intercession and strengthened by this Spirit, may not hesitate to lay down our lives for brothers.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.




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