Saint November 12 : St. Josaphat whose Pious Zeal made many Converts - an Archbishop and Martyr - Patron of Ukraine and Unity
ARCHBISHOP AND MARTYR
PRAYER: O Saint Josaphat, wonderful Saint and heroic martyr for the union of our Church with the Vicar of Christ, the Pope of Rome. Thou are glorious on account of thy zeal in the propagation of the true Catholic faith among our people. Thou art wonderful because of thy heroic martyrdom for the unity of faith of our people with the Holy See of Rome, the true center of orthodox Catholicism.
Thou art admirable on account of thy sublime virtues with which thou has adorned thy soul. We admire thy ardent love for Jesus and Mary and thy allegiance to the Vicar of Christ. Thou art a sublime example of all virtues for the people of whom thou wert born. Since thou art so powerful with God as thy miracles prove, I ask thee to obtain for me from Jesus and Mary a strong attachment to the Catholic faith and my beautiful Eastern Rite which I shall never betray nor abandon. Obtain also the grace of indefatigable zeal that I may labor for the reunion of my separated Eastern Brethren. Amen.Of Ruthenian heritage, Josaphat's father had devoted himself to commercial pursuits, and held the office of town-councilor. Both parents contributed to implant the seeds of piety in the heart of their child. In the school at Volodymyr Josaphat — Johannes was the saint's baptismal name — gave evidence of unusual talent; he applied himself with the greatest zeal to the study of ecclesiastical Slav, and learned almost the entire casoslov (breviary), which from this period he began to read daily. From this source he drew his early religious education, for the unlettered clergy seldom preached or gave catechetical instruction. Owing to the straitened circumstances of his parents, he was apprenticed to the merchant Popovyc at Vilna. In this town, remarkable for the corruption of its morals and the contentions of the various religious sects, he seemed specially guarded by Providence, and became acquainted with certain excellent men (e.g. Benjamin Rutski), under whose direction he advanced in learning and in virtue.
His favourite pious exercise was to make a poklony (i.e. a reverence, in which the head touches the ground) with the ejaculation: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner." Never eating meat, he fasted much, wore a hair-shirt and an angular chain, slept on the bare floor, and chastised his body until the blood flowed. The Jesuits frequently urged him to set some bounds to his austerities.
While each succeeding year saw fresh evidence of his fruitful labours, it also witnessed the steady growth of the hatred of the schismatic party. Finally on 12 November, 1623, an axe-stroke and a bullet brought Josaphat his martyr's crown. After numerous miracles had occurred, a commission was appointed by Urban VIII in 1628 to inquire into the cause of Josaphat, and examined on oath 116 witnesses. Although five years had elapsed since Josaphat's death, his body was still incorrupt. In 1637 a second commission investigated the life of the martyr, and in 1643 — twenty years after his death — Josaphat was beatified. His canonization took place in 1867.
After his death his influence was still greater: conversions were numerous, and veneration for him continued to extend. His feast is kept on the first Sunday after 12 November, according to the Julian Calendar. Note: His feast is currently kept on November 12 on the Universal Calendar.
The Catholic Encyclopedia