Now, I have done a couple of posts on Eastern Orthodox saints, but not yet one on Eastern Catholic saints. Why is this? Frankly, I only have so much time to explore my faith (even though my spare time is often full of doing this as much as I can and absorbing it all); however, I must confess that it is hard to find specifically Eastern Catholic saints, as the Eastern Rites of the Church seem to simply share both Roman Catholic and some Eastern Orthodox saints in common (Gregory Palamas, for example, is venerated by Eastern Catholics).
But when an anonymous reader requested, that I should post on some Eastern Catholic saints, it reminded me to get on the ball and do such a thing. Hence, I present some saints from the Eastern Catholic world:
"The monk in his monastery is a king in his palace, his is his order, his soldiers are his brothers, his glory is his virtue and holiness, his crown is the love of God and his order, his scepter, his chastity and purity, his weapon, his poverty, his obedience and prayer, his purple, his humility and gentleness. "1
A Maronite Catholic monk, he seems to be not as well known as the famous St. Charbel, but was at one time, his teacher. Interestingly, he rejected the life of a hermit in favor of living in a monastic community,
claiming it was much harder to do. His life is found here.
2. St. Josaphat Kuntsevych
"You people of Vitebsk want to put me to death. You make ambushes for me everywhere, in the streets, on the bridges, on the highways, and in the marketplace. I am here among you as a shepherd, and you ought to know that I would be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for the holy union, for the supremacy of Saint Peter, and of his successor the Supreme Pontiff."2
I am actually a little nervous to write on this man because of his horrific and much-maligned reputation amongst the Orthodox (almost similar to how Irish Catholics view Oliver Cromwell I would imagine), but he is nonetheless a major Eastern Catholic saint, and one would be amiss to not include him on this list simply because of his varying reputation.
From what I have gathered, he was a pivotal figure in the re-union with many Eastern Orthodox Christians with the Catholic Church. Writings on him from a Catholic perspective depict a supremely holy figure who mixed Western asceticism and mortification with a decidedly Eastern spirituality. I include him on this list because he is a major figure in the world of Eastern Catholics, and not in order to stir up harsh feelings from either side, though I know that at least one "Anonymous" poster will likely write that he is a murderous tyrant - regardless, he is considered a saint to Eastern Catholics and therefore warrants inclusion on this list.
3. Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified
"Always remember to love your neighbor; always prefer the one who tries your patience, who test your virtue, because with her you can always merit: suffering is Love; the Law is Love."3
The "Little Arab", here is a saint that really deserves to be better known. A Melkite Catholic, she became a Carmelite nun, and her life became one of intense mystical experience. She battled with the demonic, bore the stigmata, levitated, had the gift of prophecy, and all the rest. What's even more incredible however is that a Muslim who had befriended her in order to convert her to Islam cut her throat when she refused to abandon her faith, leaving her to die - she survived!
4. St Rafqa
"The sickness accepted with patience and thanksgiving purifies the soul as the fire purifies gold."4
St. Rafqa, a Maronite nun, has a fascinating story. Like many saints who have asked to participate in some manner in the sufferings of Christ (St. Rita always comes to mind first for me), St. Rafqa's life is almost one of being a victim soul. After a vision of St. Anthony the Great prompted her to join a Maronite order of nuns, she prayed for the ability to share in Christ's sufferings, and subsequently became blind and crippled. This eventually lead to paralysis. After her death, many miracles were reported (as with many saints, at her grave site).
5. Servant of God Andrey Sheptysky
"It is as if a pack of rabid and raging wolves has thrown itself on these people."5
I first learned of Andrey Sheptysky when I began to attend the Ukrainian Catholic parish near me. His picture was emblazoned on some pamphlets for schools of theology, and an icon of him hangs in the entrance area.
This man's life is about as eventful as it gets. He lived through the two World Wars, fought forced Latinization of Eastern Catholics, survived Russian imprisonment, protested the Nazi regime, and a beacon of peace in a world torn apart by strife. According to this website,
"The Metropolitan saw things differently. He persisted with works of Christian charity. He soon mobilized a Christian opposition to Nazi rule in western Ukraine. He let the Vatican know what was happening, in late August 1942, when he wrote to Pope Pius XII, alerting the Holy Father to the "almost diabolical" nature of the German regime. A few days later he repeated that condemnation in a letter to Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, Prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches.
He also encouraged Christian resistance. Working with his brother, Klymentii, leader of Lviv's Studite monks, the Metropolitan gathered together a small army of nuns and priests who would risk their own lives in clandestine rescue and sanctuary operations. False baptismal certificates were arranged for no less than 200 Jewish children, who were then smuggled to monasteries, orphanages, and convent schools in and around Lviv. All of these children's lives were saved, 15 in the Metropolitan's own residence. This at a time when sheltering Jews was a criminal offense punishable by death.
Rabbi Dr. David Kahana also survived thanks to the Metropolitan's intervention. Later he drew up a list of over 240 Ukrainian Catholic priests who saved Jews. This good rabbi noted that his list was not exhaustive.
Thousands of Jewish Ukrainian lives were saved at the Metropolitan's command. And all remember how, in November 1942, Sheptytsky issued what was to become his best-known pastoral letter, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." His message on the sanctity of human life was a clear condemnation of genocide."
Another saint I happened to learn about through my visits to the Ukrainian Catholic parish near me, when several nuns (Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate) attended the Divine Liturgy. I had no idea what order they were from, and looking into that, I found this particular saintly woman.
Not only was she a co-foundress of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate religious order, but she was a dedicated servant of the poor of Ukraine, living her whole life out in charity and compassion towards others.
"With the help of God I want to be a father to orphans, a support for the poor and consoler to the afflicted."7
Bl. Pavel Godjic is another famed Ukrainian Catholic saint, as well as being a Basilian monk and martyr at the hands of the communists. He was imprisoned, tortured, and eventually martyred for falsified charges of treason. He was offered a position in the Czechslovak Orthodox Church, but declined, and eventually died from his sufferings in prison.
8. St. Charbel
"The Lord has created each human being to shine, to enlighten the world; you are the light of the world. Each man is a lantern meant to shine; the Lord has provided a clear and transparent glass to the lantern, to enable that light to shine and illuminate the world; but they are taking care of the glass and forgetting about the light; they are caring about the glass shape, coloring and decorating it, until it becomes thick, opaque, preventing light from shining forth, and thus is the world drowned in darkness. The Lord insists on illuminating the world. Your glass must become transparent again. You should realize the purpose for which you are born in this world."8
St. Charbel has been mentioned earlier by a reader in a comment, and for good reason - he is one of the most beloved of the Eastern Catholic saints, and lived a tremendously holy life. The most well-known of the Maronite Catholic saints, St. Charbel lived as a hermit for 23 years. Posthumous miracles attributed to him have been numerous, and his body was found to be incorrupt when his tomb was opened.
"I would rather die than betray my Church!"9
A Ruthenian Catholic saint and martyr, Bl. Theodore faced all kinds of persecution from the incoming Soviet Army during World War II. Refusing to break with the Catholic Church and be re-assigned to Orthodox parishes by the Soviets, he became a thorn in the side of the Soviets. In fact, he became such an annoyance that he was savagely beaten almost to near-death by soldiers one night. A strange nurse, replacing some nuns who were caring for him in the hospital, was assigned to watch over him. She poisoned Bl. Theodore with poison supplied by the NKVD, and he became a martyr for the faith. He is a model of bravery in the face of persecution.
It is my hope that Roman Catholics learn more, through this post and beyond, about the other half of the Catholic Church. I truly believe that the Eastern Catholic Churches are a key to Christian unity. Keep an eye out for future posts on this notion and hopefully an interview soon enough with a Ukrainian Catholic priest!
1 - From HERE
2 - From HERE
3 - From HERE
4 - From HERE
5 - From a letter to Pope Pius XII concerning the Nazi invasion. From HERE
6 - From HERE
7 - From HERE
8 - From HERE
9 - From HERE