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Theodore Romzha

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Theodore Romzha
Blessed Martyr
Born April 14, 1911, Velykyy Bychkiv, Subcarpathia, Austria-Hungary
Died October 31, 1947, Uzhhorod,
Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Beatified June 27, 2001, Lviv by Pope John Paul II
Feast November 1
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Blessed Theodore Romzha (1911-1947) was a Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishop of Mukacheve (now part of Zakarpatska oblast, Ukraine). Martyred by Stalin's NKVD, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 27, 2001.

Biography

Early life

Theodore Romzha was born in the Subcarpathia region, Austria-Hungary (in the Rusyn village Velykyy Bychkiv, now Ukraine) on April 14, 1911. As a seminarian he was sent to Rome to study and was ordained a priest there by Bishop Evreinov on Christmas Day, 1936 in the Basilica of St Mary Major. After completing his compulsory military service he served briefly as a pastor in several Transcarpathian parishes (part of Czechoslovakia since 1918) before being assigned as professor of philosophy at the Eparchial Seminary in Uzhhorod in 1939, now occupied by Hungary.

Episcopate

These were difficult years for the Church in Subcarpathia as it experienced the invasions first by Hungary, one of Axis powers, then direct rule form Nazi Germany and lastly the Soviet Red Army. The Greek Catholic Church there was relentlessly persecuted and in 1949 was officially suppressed.

On September 24, 1944, at the young age of 33, he was consecrated bishop and appointed apostolic administrator of the Eparchy of Mukachevo in the cathedral of Uzhorod by Bishop Miklos Dudas. During this time he ministered tirelessly to the faithful of the Eparchy, defending them from Soviet aggression and preparing them for the persecution to come. His ministry to the faithful met with many roadblocks, but he managed to find a way around them. This angered the Communist officials who now began looking for ways to kill the young, energetic and popular bishop. Towards the end of October, 1947 an opportunity presented itself. On the way home from a parish visitation, Bishop Romzha’s horse drawn carriage was purposely rammed by a Soviet military truck and pushed off the side of the road. The soldiers, who were dressed as civilians, jumped from the truck and beat the bishop and his companions. Soon after the brutal assault began a civilian truck came upon the scene and the assailants fled. Romzha and his companions were taken to Uzhhorod where they were hospitalized. Romzha was making good progress when, late on the night of October 31, a new relief nurse was assigned to care for him. A little after midnight Romzha was found dead. The relief nurse mysteriously disappeared. The nurse poisoned Romzha with injection of curare provided by the head of NKVD Laboratory 1 Grigory Mairanovsky [1] The murder was ordered personally by Nikita Khrushchev [2]

Romzha was beatified as a Martyr for the Faith by Pope John Paul II in Lviv on June 27, 2001 with November 1 assigned as his feastday.

Notes

  1. Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-813-34280-5.
  2. According to KGB archive, "By order of Khrushev,... Romzha, head of the Greek Catholic Church,who actively resisted the incorporation of the Greek Catholic Church into Russian Orthodoxy, was eliminated", from Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia - Past, Present, and Future, 1994. ISBN 0-374-18104-7, page 33.

References

  • Magocsi, Paul Robert and Ivan Pop (2005). Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-3566-3. 
  • Mattei, Giampaolo. The Servant of God Bishop Theodore Romzha. L'Osservatore Romano (Weekly Edition in English). February 7, 2001, p. 8

Further reading

  • Puskas, Laslo. Theodore Romzha: His Life - Times and Martyrdom. Fairfax, VA.: ECPublications. 

External links

uk:Ромжа Теодор Юрій

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