Crucified, Boiled, Tortured or Poisoned for the Faith

The Stories Behind the Beatifications

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LVIV, Ukraine, JUNE 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Today´s beatifications included 27 martyrs of the Greek-Catholic Church killed "out of hatred for the faith" between 1941 and 1973.



The beatification of eight bishops, 15 priests, three nuns, and one layman are also the first processes undertaken by the Greek-Catholic Church since the Communist and Nazi persecutions. Among the new blessed are:

--Bishop Mykola Charneckyi, arrested by the Soviet secret police in 1945 and condemned to forced labor in Siberia. He died in Lviv in 1959, shortly after being tortured. His fame for holiness is great. Every week, the city authorities have to cover his tomb with fresh earth, as many pilgrims take handfuls of soil away after praying at this tomb.

--Father Omeljan Kovch, a married priest with six children who was a victim of both Communists and Nazis. Arrested in 1941 by the Soviet Army, he was released and then imprisoned by the Germans in Majdanek concentration camp in Poland, for helping Jews to escape.

--Teodor Romza, a Ruthenian-rite bishop, and a martyr. He died from poisoning in a hospital in 1947, after having suffered a mysterious traffic accident.

--Basilian Father Severijan Baranyk, imprisoned by the Soviets in Drohobych, Ukrainian Galicia, in 1941. His body was never found because, according to evidence presented for his cause of beatification, "he was boiled and served as soup to prisoners."

--Redemptorist Father Zynovij Kovalyk, arrested while delivering a homily. He was martyred by the Bolsheviks in a crucifixion carried out in Bryhidky prison in Lviv.

--Two nuns, Sister Olha Bida and Sister Leukadia Harasymiv, offered Greek-Catholics spiritual assistance as they were left without priests. Captured while leading prayers during a funeral, they were sent to Siberia where they died from torments and exhaustion.

--Russian Leonid Fedorov, born into an Orthodox family of St. Petersburg, a convert to Catholicism in Rome, and later ordained a Catholic priest of the Eastern rite. When he returned to his homeland, he was imprisoned in the concentration camp of the Solovski Islands, where he died in 1934, after 10 years of incarceration.

John Paul II also beatified Josaphata Hordashevska (1869-1919), founder of the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate, the first women´s congregation of the Byzantine-Ukrainian rite dedicated to the active apostolic life. Her daughters, who are involved in works of charity and evangelization, are present in 16 countries. Their latest foundation was in Kazakhstan.