Nov 7, 2010 / 05:46 am
On the day of his martyrdom, Nov. 12, Roman Catholics and some Eastern Catholics will remember St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, a bishop and monk whose example of faith inspired many Eastern Orthodox Christians to return to full communion with the Holy See.
Other Eastern Catholics, including the Ukrainian Catholic Church, celebrate St. Josaphat's feast day on Nov. 25.
Born in 1580 in the western Ukrainian region of Volhynia, John Kuntsevych did not become “Josaphat” until his later life as a monk. He also was not initially a full member of the Catholic Church, born to Orthodox Christian parents whose church had fallen out of communion with the Pope.
Although the Eastern churches began to separate from the Holy See in 1054, a union had existed for a period of time after the 15th century Ecumenical Council of Florence. But social, political and theological disputes caused the union to begin dissolving even before the Turkish conquest of Byzantium in 1453. By John’s time, many Slavic Orthodox Christians had become strongly anti-Catholic.