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The key to unity can be found in St. Josaphat’s life


Mykola Swarnyk / CC BY-NC 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/12/20

St. Josaphat discovered that his Christian example, and not politics, could help heal division.

The 16th century was a time of great tension in Ukraine, as Christians started to align themselves on opposite sides. One group wanted to remain separated from Rome, while the other wanted to unite with the Successor of St. Peter.

St. Josaphat saw first-hand this division, and instead of fueling the flames of either side, he strove to work for unity.

He did this first by trying to win the factions by reason, making arguments as to why they should be united.

Pope Pius XI explains in his encyclical, Ecclesiam Dei.

[H]aving 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 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.” Marvelous in truth was the number of souls which he led back to the unity of the Fold of Jesus Christ, made up of all classes, peasants, merchants, nobles, prefects, and governors of provinces.

The key to his arguments was not the fire with which they were given, but the kindness he used. Furthermore, when reason was not an option, it was the example of his life that led others to unity.

After he was appointed bishop of Polotsk he extended greatly the field of his apostolate, an apostolate which could not but bring about extraordinary results due to the example which he gave of a life of inviolate chastity, poverty, and frugality joined with such openhandedness toward the poor that he even went to the length of pawning his own omophorion [the vestment of an Eastern bishop] in order to care for their needs.

In the midst of this, he refused to play politics or join a political party.

Our Saint, however, always remained strictly within the confines of religious work, never mixing in politics, despite the fact that more than once he was earnestly solicited to take sides with one or other political faction.

However, his great work for unity was seen as a threat, leading to his martyrdom.

A few days before his death when he was warned of plots that were being laid against him, he said: “Lord, grant me the grace to shed my blood for the unity of the church and in behalf of obedience to the Holy See.”

St. Josaphat remains a powerful intercessor for unity, showing us that our example will speak louder than any argument or social media meme.


Read more:
Prayer that government leaders will promote unity, honesty and peace


Read more:
Prayer for Christian Unity through the intercession of St. Josaphat

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