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November 12

Saint Josaphat of Polotsk

Saint Josaphat of Polotsk's Story

(Josaphat Kuntsevych)

Saint Josaphat’s Story

In 1964, newspaper photos of Pope Paul VI embracing Athenagoras I, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, marked a significant step toward the healing of a division in Christendom that has spanned more than nine centuries.

In 1595, the Orthodox bishop of Brest-Litovsk in present-day Belarus and five other bishops representing millions of Ruthenians, sought reunion with Rome. John Kunsevich—who took the name Josaphat in religious life—was to dedicate his life, and die for the same cause. Born in what is now Ukraine, he went to work in Wilno and was influenced by clergy adhering to the 1596 Union of Brest. He became a Basilian monk, then a priest, and soon was well known as a preacher and an ascetic.

He became bishop of Vitebsk at a relatively young age, and faced a difficult situation. Most monks, fearing interference in liturgy and customs, did not want union with Rome. By synods, catechetical instruction, reform of the clergy, and personal example, however, Josaphat was successful in winning the greater part of the Orthodox in that area to the union.

But the next year a dissident hierarchy was set up, and his opposite number spread the accusation that Josaphat had “gone Latin” and that all his people would have to do the same. He was not enthusiastically supported by the Latin bishops of Poland.

Despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk, still a hotbed of trouble. Attempts were made to foment trouble and drive him from the diocese: A priest was sent to shout insults to him from his own courtyard. When Josaphat had him removed and shut up in his house, the opposition rang the town hall bell, and a mob assembled. The priest was released, but members of the mob broke into the bishop’s home. Josaphat was struck with a halberd, then shot, and his body thrown into the river. It was later recovered and is now buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

Josaphat’s death brought a movement toward Catholicism and unity, but the controversy continued, and the dissidents, too, had their martyr. After the partition of Poland, the Russians forced most Ruthenians to join the Russian Orthodox Church.





St. Peter's Basilica

Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City, Italy


Juoda Duona - Lithuanian Dark Rye Bread 

Most who tried this bread would fall in love with it for its density, intense flavor and the intoxicating sweet-sour perfume that envelopes you as soon as you unwrap it. The crumb is heavy, dark and firm, and the flavor – citrusy-sweet with hints of licorice, finishing with a clean bright sour – will blew you away right away!



  • 1 glass of whole grain rye flour

  • 1 glass of warm water


  1. You can add more water if needed to get yogurt-like thickness.
    Keep it for 72 hours in a temperature of 25 degrees. Stir it lightly every day.
    The dough will become more liquid, with bubbles and mild smell of sourdough.

Day 1


  • 1 glass of prepared sourdough

  • 2 glasses of whole grain rye flour


  1. Some water to ease the stirring

  2. Leave the dough for 12 hours in a temperature of 25 degrees. Again, you will get a more liquid dough, with bubbles and more volume


Day 2


  • The dough from day 1

  • 1 glass of whole grain rye flour

  • 1 glass of wheat flour

  • 1 tbsp of cumin

  • 3 tbsp of sugar

  • 1 tbsp of honey

  • 2 tsp of salt

  • 1 glass of warm water


  1. Mix all the ingredients and form a loaf. Lay it in a baking form covered with baking paper or oil. Leave it for 3 hours in a temperature of 25 degrees.

  2. Bake the bread in a 250 degrees pre-heated oven for 15 minutes (to form the bread crust). Lower the temperature to 200 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Take the baked bread out of the form and stroke it with wet hands (to avoid the crust to break). Cover it with a cloth and leave it to cool down.

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