This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27 -- Feast of Blessed Severian Baranyk

To say that this post is tasteless is itself a vulgar joke, so I am getting it out of the way up front.
Blessed Severian

Severian Baranyk was a Ukrainian priest in the Greek Catholic Church.  When he was born in 1889, his home was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  As the borders moved following the wars of the twentieth century, his hometown was in Poland from 1919 until 1940, when it became part of Ukraine. That last shift was fatal for Blessed Severian.  

The Soviets were not fond of religion, of course.  Marx, after all, had said that religion is the opiate of the masses.  [I continue to insist that Marxism is the opiate of the intellectuals -- the workers paradise seems no more likely to happen than a celestial paradise. But that's beside the point of this post.]  But if someone adhered to a religion, it was supposed to be the Russian Orthodox Church; being a Catholic was laying treason on top of folly.  And of course once WWII began and the Ukrainians welcomed the German invaders as liberators, being Ukrainian was one more strike.

Katyn Forest Memo
The Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD) was in charge of internal state security in the USSR during the Stalinist era.  It was the forerunner to the more famous KGB.  The NKVD cooperated with the Gestapo for the subjugation of Poland, most famously murdering approximately 22,000 Polish prisoners in the Katyn Forest, including 8,000 military officers, 6,000 police officers -- the other 6,000 were a medley of landowners, factory owners, lawyers, government officials, and priests.  Ukrainians and Belorussians who had been absorbed into Poland through border changes were gaffled up in this massacre, and no one should be surprised that 8% of the victims were Jews.  Lest someone blame overwrought soldiers for this excess, the order for the massacre, signed by Josef Stalin, Lavrenti Beria, and other members of the Politburo and declassified by the Russian government in 1990, is copied here. 

WHO was the original Soup Man?
Blessed Severian, who was serving as the prior of a Basilian monastery in Drohobych, was not executed in the Katyn Forest Massacre.  He was, however, taken by the NKVD to Drohobych Prison in June 1941 and never released.  He was never seen alive again, but there are some reports (including the official Vatican story) that his tortured, mutilated corpse was found with a cross carved into the chest.  There are other sources, including Catholic Insight, that indicate his body was used to make soup for the other prisoners, but mentioning that is just tasteless.

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