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Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky ( ; July 29, 1865November 1, 1944) was the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 1901 until his death. During his tenure, he led the Church through two world wars and seven political regimes: Austrian, Russianmarker, Ukrainianmarker, Polish, Sovietmarker, German National Socialist (Nazi), and again Soviet.

According to the historian Jaroslav Pelikan, "Arguably, Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky was the most influential figure… in the entire history of the Ukrainian Church in the twentieth century." The Lviv National Museum, founded by Sheptytsky in 1905, now bears his name.


Roman Sheptytsky as a young Austrian cavalry officer

He was born in a village northeast of Lvivmarker called Prylbychi, Galicia, then a crownland of Austria-Hungary and baptized Roman Aleksander Maria. His family was from an aristocratic Ukrainian line, which in the nineteenth century had become Polonized, Roman Catholic, and French speaking. Among his ancestors there were many important church figures, including two metropolitans of Kyivmarker, Atanasy and Lev. His maternal grandfather was the Polish writer Aleksander Fredro. One of his brothers bl. Klymentiy Sheptytsky became a Studite monk, while another Stanisław Szeptycki became a general in the Polish army.

Sheptytsky received his education first at home and then in Krakówmarker. After graduating he went to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army but after a few months fell sick and was forced to abandon it. Instead he studied law in Krakówmarker and Wrocławmarker, receiving his doctorate in 1888. During his studies the future Metropolitan visited Italymarker where he was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII in Romemarker and to the Ukrainian heartland of Kyivmarker, then under Russian rule, where he met some of the most prominent Ukrainian personalities of that time. He also visited Moscow. Despite his father's opposition, he entered a Basilian monastery in Dobromylmarker, returning to his roots to serve what was regarded as the peasant Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. That same year took the name Andrew, after the younger brother of Saint Peter, Saint Andrew the First Called considered the founder of the Byzantine Church and also specifically of the Ukrainian Church. He then studied at the Jesuit Seminary in Kraków, receiving a doctoral degree in theology in 1894. In 1892 he was ordained a priest in Peremyshl. He was made rector of the monastery of St. Onuphrius in Lviv in 1896.

Memorial plaque in Kraków, marking the place where Szeptycki lived
In 1899, following the death of Sylvester Cardinal Sembratovich, Sheptytsky was nominated by Emperor Franz Joseph to fill a vacant position as Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop of Stanyslavivmarker, and Pope Leo XIII concurred. A year later, following the death of Sembratovich's successor, Sheptytsky was elevated, at the age of thirty-six, to Metropolitan Archbishop.

He visited North America in 1910 where he met with Ukrainian Greek Catholic immigrant communities in the United States; attended the twenty-first International Eucharistic Congress in Montrealmarker; and toured Ukrainian communities in Canadamarker.

After the outbreak of World War I, Metropolitan Sheptytsky was arrested by the Russians and imprisoned in various places in Ukraine and Russiamarker. He was released in March 1918 and returned to Lviv from Russia.

As a student he learned Hebrew in order to better relate to the Jewish community. During pastoral visits to Jewish villages he was sometimes met with the Torah. During World War II he harbored hundreds of Jews in his residence and in Greek Catholic monasteries. He also issued the pastoral letter, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," to protest Nazi atrocities. During this period he secretly consecrated Josyf Slipyj as his successor.

Sheptytsky was also a patron of artists, students, including many Orthodox Christians, and a pioneer of ecumenism — he also opposed the Second Polish Republicmarker policy of forced conversion of Polish Ukrainians into Latin Rite Catholics. He strove for reconciliation between ethnic groups and wrote frequently on social issues and spirituality. He also founded the Studite and Ukrainian Redemptorist orders, a hospital, the National Museum, and the Theological Academy. He actively supported various Ukrainian organizations such as the Prosvita and in particular, the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, and donated a campsite in the Carpathian Mountainsmarker called Sokil, and became the patron saint of the Plast fraternity Orden Khrestonostsiv.

He died in 1944 and is buried in St. George's Cathedralmarker in Lviv. In 1958 the process of his beatification was begun and now is well advanced.


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