|Blessed Theodore George Romzha
Modern Catholic Martyr
I love You, O Lord my strength; You are my stronghold and my refuge! Psalm 18:2-3
episcopal motto of Bishop Theodore Romzha
Bishop Theodore Romzha became the Apostolic Administrator of the Mukachevo Eparchy in 1944 at the age of 33. He served until 1947, when he was murdered by atheistic Soviet authorities for refusing to compromise his Catholic faith and teaching. On the 50th anniversary of Bishop Romzha's martyrdom, Bishop Ivan Semedi sent a folio of materials to Rome, and the Congregation of Saints opened the cause for martyr Bishop Romzha.
On June 29, 1945, Subcarpathian Ruthenia was officially annexed by the Soviet Union. Because the Catholic Church opposes atheistic communism, the Soviet Union refused to tolerate Catholicism within its borders. In anticipation of hostility, Bishop Romzha began traveling to every single parish church in the eparchy to unite his people and encourage the faithful to persevere in the Faith. He did not limit his concern to his own Greek Catholics, but also took care of many Roman Catholic parishes. When the Soviets confiscated his car, Bishop Romzha continued his visits by horse and buggy. Knowing from the example of Christ that a good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep, he was not discouraged.
"Our greatest treasure here on earth is our Faith, for which we should be ready to sacrifice even our own lives. If we must die, let us die as heroes, defending our Faith. Remember, if we die for Christ, we will also live with Christ in heaven!"
It was not long before the Soviet authorities began to harass the bishop, accusing him of crimes and violations and interrogating him for hours on end. Priests were being executed and deported to Siberia. When informed that membership in the Greek Catholic Church was illegal in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, Bishop Romzha always responded "I would rather die than abandon my Church!" He also continued to ordain new priests and organize new parishes. The faithful were inspired by the Bishop's fortitude, and some Eastern Orthodox parishes even asked to be received into his fold.
"If you suffer for your Faith, then be grateful to God, for He is giving you an opportunity to receive the crown of martyrs!"
On October 26, 1947, Bishop Romzha, two seminarians, and a priest were traveling by horse-drawn cart after the dedication of a new church. The cart was rammed by a Soviet military truck, injuring the Bishop and his companions. The first murder attempt failed.
A passerby took them to the hospital in Mukachevo, where Bishop Romzha was given to the care of Dr. Fedinec. He was showing signs of recovery when Dr. Fedinec was suddenly barred from treating him. The hospital director and an unknown nurse took over the Bishop's "treatment," and the next morning, November 1, Bishop Romzha was dead from apparent poisoning. The nurse promptly disappeared.
Fearing a reaction from the people, the Soviet authorities severed all lines of communication. Even so, 30,000 people showed up for Bishop Romzha's funeral. He was buried in the crypt of Holy Cross Cathedral in Uzhorod.
On February 20, 1949, the Soviet authorities confiscated Holy Cross Cathedral, and quickly began to liquidate the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo. Churches were closed, many members were arrested and deported to concentration camps Siberia. Only a few members remained to form a Catholic underground. Martyrs like Bishop Romzha strengthened them against the official atheism of the Soviet Union.
Bishop Theodore Romzha was beatified at the Byzantine Divine Liturgy celebrated by Pope John Paul II on 27 June 2001 in Lviv, Ukraine. A short bio of Blessed Theodore Romzha is available at the Vatican website.
Prayer for the Glorification of Bishop Theodore Romzha
O gracious Lord, in Your infinite goodness You have given us a fearless Bishop, Theodore G. Romzha, who by his uncommon courage, sufferings, and violent death gave heroic testimony to his unshakable Faith and inspired our people to hold fast to their Faith in a time of persecution. Therefore, we humbly beseech You to glorify Your faithful servant, that man of Faith, Bishop Theodore, and to strengthen our Faith by granting us through his intercession [...here make your request]. For You are a merciful and gracious God, and we glorify You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.
|Links about Bishop Theodore Romzha|
|Links about other martyred Byzantine Catholic Bishops|
We also pray for the glorification of Father Walter Ciszek.
|For more information about Bishop Romzha, consider contacting:|
|St. Pius X Byzantine Catholic Church
2336 Brownsville Road
Central South Hills
Pittsburgh, PA 15210
biographical & photo brochures
|Office for Canonization
c/o St. Michael Catholic Church
2230 Highland Road
Hermitage, PA 16148
Phone (412) 981-6680
|Byzantine Seminary Press
3605 Perrysville Avenue
P.O. Box 7626
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
Phone (412) 322-8307
Our Martyred Bishop Romzha (booklet)
Bishop Romzha (Byzantine Leaflet no. 39)
(see also nos. 40-42 on other martyred bishops)
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