Andrey Sheptytsky

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Andrey Sheptytsky

Metropolitan Galicia, Archbishop of Lviv (Lemberg)
Andrzej Szeptycki (a).jpg
ChurchUkrainian Greek Catholic Church
Appointed12 December 1900
Installed17 January 1901
Term ended1 November 1944
PredecessorMetropolitan Archbishop Julian Sas-Kuilovsky
SuccessorCardinal Josyf Slipyj
Ordination22 August 1892
Consecration17 September 1899
by Metropolitan Archbishop Julian Sas-Kuilovsky
Personal details
Roman Aleksander Maria Sheptytsky

29 July 1865
DiedNovember 1, 1944(1944-11-01) (aged 79)
Lviv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
BuriedSt. George's Cathedral,
Lviv, Ukraine
49°50′19.48″N 24°0′46.19″E / 49.8387444°N 24.0128306°E / 49.8387444; 24.0128306
Coat of armsAndrey Sheptytsky's coat of arms

I am Ukrainian from my grandfather, great-grandfather. And our church and our holy ritual I love with all my heart devoting to the Lord's affair my whole life. So I know that in this regard I could not be foreign to people who have given their heart and soul for the same cause.

Andrey Sheptytsky, Pastoral letters, 2 August 1899.[1]

Andrey Sheptytsky, OSBM (Polish: Andrzej Szeptycki; Ukrainian: Митрополит Андрей Шептицький; 29 July 1865 – 1 November 1944) served as the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 1901 until his death in 1944.[2] His tenure in office spanned two world wars and seven political regimes: Austrian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Soviet, General Government (Nazi), and again Soviet.

According to the church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, "Arguably, Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky was the most influential figure the entire history of the Ukrainian Church in the twentieth century".[3] The Lviv National Museum, founded by Sheptytsky in 1905, now bears his name.

The Information-Resource Center of the Ukrainian Catholic University that was opened in September 2017 also bears his name — The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center.[4]


He was born as Count Roman Aleksander Maria Szeptycki in a village 40 km west/northwest of Lviv called Prylbychi, in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, then a crownland of the Austrian Empire.[citation needed]

The Sheptytsky family descends from the Ruthenian nobility, but in the 18th century had become Polish-speaking and Roman Catholic. The maternal Fredro family descends from the Polish nobility. Among his ancestors, there were many important church figures, including two metropolitans of Kyiv, Atanasy and Lev. His maternal grandfather was the Polish writer Aleksander Fredro. One of his brothers, Klymentiy Sheptytsky, M.S.U., became a Studite monk, and another, Stanisław Szeptycki, became a General in the Polish Army. He was 2 m 10 cm (6 ft. 10 in.) tall.

Sheptytsky received his education first at home and then in Kraków. After graduating he went to serve in the Austro-Hungarian Army but after a few months he fell sick and was forced to abandon it. Instead, he studied law in Kraków and Breslau, receiving his doctorate in 1888. During his studies he visited Italy, where he was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII at the Vatican, and to the Ukrainian heartland of Kyiv, then under Russian rule, where he met some of the most prominent Ukrainian personalities of that time. He also visited Moscow.

According to his biographer Fr. Cyril Korolevsky, Sheptytsky's lifelong obsession with creating the Russian Greek Catholic Church as a means of reuniting the Russian people with the Holy See goes back at least to his first trip to Russia in 1887. Afterwards, Sheptytsky "wrote some reflections" between October and November of 1887, and expressed his belief, "that the Great Schism, which became definitive in Russia in the fifteenth century, was a bad tree, and it was useless to keep cutting the branches without uprooting the trunk itself, because the branches would always grow back."[5]

Religious life[edit]

Despite his father's opposition, Sheptytsky became a monk at the Basilian monastery in Dobromyl,(1888) returning to his roots to serve what was regarded as the peasant Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He took the name, Andrew, after the younger brother of Saint Peter, Andrew the Apostle, considered the founder of the Byzantine Church and also specifically of the Ukrainian Church. He then studied at the Jesuit Seminary in Kraków, receiving a doctoral degree in theology in 1894. In 1892 he was ordained a priest in Przemyśl. He was made rector of the Monastery of St Onuphrius in Lviv in 1896.

Memorial plaque in Kraków, marking the place where Szeptycki lived

In 1899, following the death of Cardinal Sylvester Sembratovych, Sheptytsky was nominated by Emperor Franz Joseph to fill the vacant position of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishop of Stanyslaviv[6] (now Ivano-Frankivsk), and Pope Leo XIII concurred. Thus he was consecrated as bishop in Lviv on 17 September 1899 by Metropolitan Julian Sas-Kuilovsky assisted by Bishop Chekhovych and Bishop Weber, the Latin-Rite auxiliary of Lviv.[7] A year later, on 12 December 1900 and following the death of Sembratovych's successor, Sheptytsky was appointed, at the age of thirty-six, Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv and enthroned on 17 January 1901.[8]

Sheptytsky visited North America in 1910 where he met with Ukrainian Greek Catholic immigrant communities in the United States; attended the twenty-first International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal; toured Ukrainian communities in Canada; and invited the Redemptorist fathers ministering in the Byzantine rite to come to Ukraine.

After the outbreak of World War I, Sheptytsky was arrested by the Imperial Russian government and imprisoned in monastery of Saint Euthymius, Suzdal (1914-1917).[9] He was released in 1918 and returned to Lviv from the Russian Empire. Bolsheviks destroyed his parents' rural house in Prylbychi where he was born.[9] During the destruction the family archives were lost.[9]


As a student, Sheptytsky learned Hebrew in order to better relate to the Jewish community. During pastoral visits to Jewish villages, he was sometimes met with the Torah.[citation needed] During World War II he harbored hundreds of Jews in his residence and in Greek Catholic monasteries.[10] He also issued the pastoral letter, "Thou Shalt Not Kill",[11] to protest Nazi atrocities. Alone among the church leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe, Sheptytsky openly spoke in defense of the persecuted Jews. He sent an official letter, as the First Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, to Hitler and Himmler protesting about the destruction of the Jews. In a special Pastoral Letter addressed to his Ukrainian faithful, he strongly forbade them (under the pain of excommunication) from participating or helping in the destruction of Jews. In addition, he issued secret instructions to his secular and monastic clergy, ordering them to help the Jews by hiding them on church property, feeding them and smuggling them out of the country. One of the rabbis whose life was saved by Metropolitan Sheptytsky, David Kahane, stated: "Andrew Sheptytsky deserves the undying gratitude of the Jews and the honorific title 'Prince of the Righteous'".[12] During this period he secretly consecrated Josyf Slipyj as his successor.

Sheptytsky in the early years of his episcopacy expressed strong support for a celibate Eastern Catholic clergy. Yet he said to have changed his mind after years in Imperial Russian prisons where he encountered the faithfulness of married Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox priests and their wives and families. After this, he fought Latin Catholic leaders who attempted to require clerical celibacy among Eastern Catholic priests.[13]

Sheptytsky was also a patron of artists, students, including many Orthodox Christians, and a pioneer of ecumenism—he also opposed the Second Polish Republic policy of forced conversion of Polish Ukrainians into Latin Rite Catholics.[14] He strove for reconciliation between ethnic groups and wrote frequently on social issues and spirituality. He also founded the Studite and Ukrainian Redemptorist orders, a hospital, the National Museum, and the Theological Academy. He actively supported various Ukrainian organizations such as the Prosvita and in particular, the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, and donated a campsite in the Carpathian Mountains called Sokil and became the patron saint of the Plast fraternity Orden Khrestonostsiv.

Sheptytsky died in 1944 and is buried in St. George's Cathedral in Lviv. In 1958 the cause for his canonization was begun, but stalled at the behest of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. Pope Francis approved his life as being one of heroic virtue on 16 July 2015, thus proclaiming him to be Venerable.

Jews who were saved thanks to actions of Andrey Sheptytsky have lobbied Yad Vashem for years to have him named Righteous Among the Nations, just as his brother Klymentiy Sheptytsky had been, but so far Yad Vashem has not done so, mostly due to concerns with his initial belief that German invaders would be better for Ukraine than the Soviet Union had been.[15] He initially supported the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician), blessing new recruits into the division.[16] According to his close friend Rabbi David Kahane, however, Sheptytsky had believed that the Division would be used to fight Stalinism and personally expressed disgust in a conversation with the Rabbi about the Division's subsequent role as perpetrators of the Holocaust in Ukraine.


The first monument to Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky was erected during his lifetime in 1932. It was destroyed by the Soviets in 1939.

A new monument to Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky was inaugurated in Lviv on 29 July 2015, the 150th anniversary of his birth.[17]



  1. ^ Hakh, I. Great descendant of the old family (Великий нащадок давнього роду). Zbruch (newspaper) [uk]. 31 July 2015
  2. ^ "Митрополит Андрей Шептицький - Україна Incognita". Archived from the original on 2020-04-07. Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  3. ^ Pelikan, Jaroslav (1990). Confessor Between East and West. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-3672-0.
  4. ^ "About the Center". UKU Center (in Ukrainian). 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  5. ^ Cyril Korolevsky (1993), Metropolitan Andrew (1865-1944), translated and revised by Serge Keleher. Eastern Christian Publications, Fairfax, Virginia. Page 249.
  6. ^ Kitsoft. "Єгипет - July 29 – 150 anniversary of the birth of Andrey Sheptytsky, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church". Retrieved 2020-04-09.
  7. ^ Athanasius D. McVay (10 April 2008). "The Reluctant-to-Accept and the Reluctantly-Accepted Bishop". Annales Ecclesiae Ucrainae. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Archbishop Andrij Aleksander Szeptycki (Sheptytsky), O.S.B.M." David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Senkivska, N. Metropolitan Andrei: life story in retro-photographs (Митрополит Андрей: життєпис у ретро-світлинах.). Zbruc. 1 November 2016
  10. ^ Holocaust Survivor Speaks at UCU, Praises Sheptytskys, Ukrainian Catholic University News
  11. ^ "Не убий!". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  12. ^ Petro Mirchuk: The Matter of the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Andrij Sheptytsky
  13. ^ "American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA – Mandated Celibacy Among US Eastern Catholic Priests Theme of Seminar in Rome". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  14. ^ Cuius Regio, Time, 24 October 1938
  15. ^ The Jewish Week: Righteous Gentile Or Nazi Supporter? Wartime leader of Ukrainian church sheltered many Jews, but the decades-long campaign has not brought Yad Vashem’s highest honor. 04/09/12 By Steve Lipman
  16. ^ Serbyn p.65
  17. ^ "Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky monument unveiled in Lviv". EMPR: Russia - Ukraine war news, latest Ukraine updates. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2020-08-12.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cyrille Korolevskij [fr], Metropolitan Andrew (1865–1944), Translated and Revised by Serge Keleher, Stauropegion, 1993, Lviv.
  • Aharon Weiss, Andrei Sheptytsky in Encyclopedia of the Holocaust vol. 4, pp. 1347–8
  • The Ukrainian Division Halychyna by Dr. Roman Serbyn


External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by Metropolitans of Galicia and Archbishop of Lemberg
(as locum tenens in 1900)

Succeeded byas Locum tenens until 1963
Bishop of Stanislau
Succeeded by