A Catholic Married Priest & Martyr
Blessed Gomidas Keumurgian
Not long ago I gave a couple at our Chapel a book on the lives of the saints. This was not an ordinary lives of the saints, as it was primarily about all the married saints and blessed. Among them are more than a few who were Catholic bishops and priests. Sometimes we forget to remind our married couples of the heroic sanctity that was found in many of the saints and blessed who gained the crown of glory through living life as a good Catholic husband or wife. Our Catholic families need to be reminded of so many wonderful examples of holiness that came to be through living life in the state of holy marriage.
I recall with a smile the poor lady who once told me that Pope Pius XII was not a "true pope" (she proclaimed an instant ipso facto pronouncement, over a cup of tea I made for her). I showed her that this saintly pontiff permitted married (Latin) Roman Rite priests in some circumstances. Her reaction was sad, but typical of so many who are completely ignorant of Catholic history. Truth be told, this type of ignorance is a reason that the liberals succeeded in stealing the Church away.
I read not long ago a story of Blessed Gomidas in some "traditionalist" publication. The article contained many interesting facts, but it completely left out the fact that Blessed Gomidas was married with children. Some folks have a warped sense of what is "traditional." May this story of another martyr for the faith inspire sincere souls.
November 5th - Blessed Gomidas Keumurjian, Martyr
(also known as Gomides)
Born in Constantinople in 1656; died at Parmark-Kapu (near Constantinople) in
1707; beatified in 1929. Gomidas was the son of a dissident Armenian priest, he
married Huru (who deserves a place in the calendar) at 20, was ordained, had
seven children, and was assigned to Saint George Armenian Church.
He became known for his eloquence and religious fervor, and in 1696, when he was
40, with his wife, made his submission and was reconciled to Rome. He stayed on
at Saint George's, and his success in reuniting five of the twelve priests there
to Rome caused much opposition from the dissidents, who complained to the
Turkish authorities. He then went to Jerusalem, where his activities at Saint
James Armenian Monastery incurred the opposition of a John of Smyrna.
When Gomidas returned to Constantinople in 1702, John was vicar of Patriarch
Avedik. Avedik was exiled for a time to Cyprus, and while there was kidnapped by
the French ambassador. This angered the dissidents and they persuaded the
Turkish authorities to move against the Catholics.
Gomidas was arrested in 1707 and condemned to the galleys, but was ransomed by
friends. He continued to preach reunion with Rome and was again arrested later
in the same year at the instigation of dissident Armenian priests.
By now John of Smyrna had become patriarch of the Armenians. Gomidas was accused
of being a Frank (which meant being either a foreigner or a Latin Catholic),
though he had been born in Constantinople, and of fomenting trouble among the
Armenians in the city.
Though the judge, Mustafa Kamal, the chief kadi, knew Gomidas was an Armenian
priest, Kamal was unable to do anything in the case when a stream of perjured
witnesses testified that Gomidas was a troublemaker, a Frank, and an agent of
hostile Western powers, and Gomidas was found guilty.
He was offered his freedom if he would apostatize to Islam, and was beheaded at
Parmark-Kapu, on the outskirts of Constantinople, when he refused. He is
sometimes mistakenly called Cosimo di Carbognano, but this was his son's name
(Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Holy Mass as it is offered in the Armenian Catholic Rite
(this is the only Eastern Church that has the "Last Gospel" in the Liturgy)
Martyr for Church Unity
Born in 1584 in Vladimir, a city of ancient Poland, Saint Josaphat was the son of Gabriel Kuncewicz. His was a family of honorable Christians of the Greco-Slavic rite, in use among the Russians. His mother took care to raise him in the fear of God, and in his tender heart formed the first longings for virtue. He was never in any way lightheaded, but separated willingly from the games of his companions to pray. He made excellent progress in his studies, always preferring the sacred branches to the profane, and for thirty years he recited each day, without ever failing even once to do so, a large section of the Divine Office which he learned by heart.
At twenty years of age Josaphat deplored the situation of religion in Poland. In 1596, the Ruthenian Church was divided into two contending parties — the Unionates and those who persevered in schism. He saw divisions growing in the Church, and that few were remaining faithful to the Holy See, to safeguard the true orthodoxy and their eastern rites. He studied philosophy and theology under two famous Jesuits, and decided to enter religious life. When his employer, who was childless and wished to keep him, offered him his commerce as his adopted son, he declined that offer without hesitating, and entered the Convent of the Trinity at Vilna, where Basilian religious submissive to the Holy See were residing. He received the religious habit and was professed in 1604.
Saint Josaphat was ordained a priest and began to preach in various churches of the city, bringing back many dissidents to the Union. He was invited also to preach and govern in various regions of the land; he accepted to become head of a monastery at Bytene. He restored there celebrated sanctuaries, built a convent, and converted, among others, one of the most zealous of the dissidents. In 1614 Josaphat’s friend Joseph Routski became Archbishop of the city of Vilna, and recalled his holy former companion to that city, confiding the monastery of the Trinity to him. Saint Josaphat never made harsh reproaches, but corrections warmed by a wholly paternal affection. The conversion of the separated brethren continued through the preaching of the one called by the Uniates The Scourge of the Schismatics, whereas the latter called him The Ravisher of Souls.
He became the Archbishop of Polotsk in 1617 at the age of thirty-eight, on the very day when, six years later, he would earn the consecration of blood, November 12 He restored five major cathedrals and several lesser ones; he aided the poor, stripping himself often of the most necessary objects or funds. He maintained total frugality in his residence; he recovered certain properties retained unjustly by powerful lords of the region, through his mildness of language in the lawcourts, to which he had recourse for that purpose. But he was soon to acquire, in a certain Melece Smotritski, a formidable enemy, who had himself consecrated, in Russia, Archbishop of the same city as Josaphat, with other aspirants to like authority. Despite the opposition of King Sigismond of Poland, who forbade all his subjects to have any communication with the usurper, the latter won adherents. The people of the city of Vitebsk, a little like those of Jerusalem, who in one week’s time changed their hosanna’s into tolle’s, turned toward the newcomers in large numbers, and in an uprising succeeded in giving eighteen wounds to the head of the Archdeacon of the church, and leaving for dead another official, bathed in his blood.
When their Archbishop went there to calm the tumult in 1623, knowing well that his hour had come, in effect he was most cruelly assassinated and his body profaned; he was in his forty-fourth year. His mortal remains were recovered after five days from the waters of a river, and exposed for nine days, constantly emitting a fragrance of roses and lilies. A councillor of Polotsk, where the body was returned, abandoned the schism merely at the sight of the archbishop’s beautiful countenance. Many of the parricides struck their breasts, and did likewise. The Archbishop had gone gladly to his death, offering his life that the schism might end; he had said as much beforehand. Four years after his death the author of the troubles, Smotritski, the false archbishop, after many combats made a decisive step and consecrated his life to penance, prayer and the defense of the Union. Such changes of heart are indeed the greatest of miracles, won by the sanctity of the true servants of God.
About five years after Saint Josaphat’s martyrdom his body was found intact, though the clothing had rotted away. Again in 1637 it was still white and supple. A beautiful silver reliquary was made for it, with a life-size image of the reclining Saint surmounting it. The body was again exposed intact in 1767. It was eventually taken to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. Pope Leo XIII canonized Saint Josaphat in 1867.
The Sacrament of Baptism
(according to Eastern Catholic tradition)
Holy Communion in the Eastern Catholic Church
A "Latinized" Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church
(such Latinizations were resisted by St. Josaphat)
Correct Eastern Rite Sanctuary