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Head of UGCC led Vespers with Litany in Vatican on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Josaphat

November 11, 2023, 21:01 219

On November 11, prior to the day of the liturgical commemoration of the holy martyr Josaphat Kuntsevych, the Father and Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, led the Great Vespers with the Litany in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. This service at the tomb of the Ukrainian saint marked the culmination of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Josaphat, who was executed on November 12, 1623, in Vitebsk.

Head of UGCC led Vespers with Litany in Vatican on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Josaphat

The Head and Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church were joined in the service by Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, and President of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, the Ambassadors of Ukraine and Lithuania to the Holy See, and a large Ukrainian community in Rome, both clergy and laity.

The Father and Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, thanked everyone who attended the communal prayer, noting that it is in the prayerful intercession of this saint that Ukraine should seek hope for victory in the fight against the aggressor.


During the Vespers, Fr. Robert Lyseyko, Protoarchimandrite of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, delivered a welcoming speech. “The Church, proclaiming Josaphat Kuntsevych a saint, sets him as an exemplar for us,” the website of the Basilian Fathers quotes Fr. Robert as stating: “He is a martyr, a true witness of his faith in the Lord God, to whom he dedicated his life and was faithful to the end, ready to give his life for his faith and seeking what the Lord has prepared for us — eternal life. St. Josaphat constantly endeavored to preserve his unity with God. We call him the Apostle of Unity for a reason. He is an apostle of unity from the moment he begins to seek unity with God in a life marked by deep prayer and renunciation, seeking not his own but what is God’s.”

According to the preacher, St. Josaphat did not disregard the people he met in his life. Moreover, his efforts to unite many people with the Lord did not end with his earthly life. After his death, many people were converted and found Jesus Christ in their lives only because they had witnessed Josaphat’s testimony.

“The example of St. Josaphat is particularly relevant in our time, amidst the evils and violence surrounding us, with our people enduring the hardships of war. It encourages us to care for one another, prioritize salvation, and foster a spirit of conversion. Our prayers for enemies should reflect a sincere desire for their transformation, especially when confronted with persistent wrongdoing and harm. Achieving this necessitates demonstrating inclusive love through our Christian lives—not only loving those who reciprocate but also extending our love to those who harbor hatred. By praying for our enemies and aspiring to their conversion, we contribute to their potential realization of salvation,” said the Basilian Archimandrite.

On November 12, at 12:00 (Roman time), Pope Francis held the traditional Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square. Then, at 13:30, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, in concelebration with Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, presided over the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy on the cathedral altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The UGCC Department for Information,
photo by the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat

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