Fr. Constantine Budkiewicz
Constantine Romuald Iulianovich Budkiewicz was born on the 19th of June in 1867, in Zubry, Dvina Province. He finished Seminary and Theological Academy in St. Petersburg. He was ordained a priest in 1893. He was a Doctor of Theology. He was vicar and teacher of religion in Pskov and from 1896 teacher of religion in the boy's and girl's lycees in Vilna. From 1903 he served at the parish of St. Catherine in St. Petersburg, and after 1905 he was pastor. From 1908 he was dean of the Petersburg clergy. In 1918 he became prelate and Vicar General for Bishop Jan Cieplak, who served in Petersburg. He was an outstanding organizer and effective in his social action, particularly in the area of developing Polish instruction in the parishes of St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, and he was active in charity work and in organizing the clergy for the defense of the rights of the faithful. In 1918 he was active in working for the liberation of Metropolitan Eduard Ropp, who had been arrested by the Soviet authorities. From 1922 he was professor in the underground seminary, organized because of the impossibility of preparing candidates for the priesthood legally. On the 13th of March 1923 he was arrested in connection with the case against the Catholic clergy, with Archbishop Cieplak at their head. In an open court trial on the 21st to the 26th of March of 1923 he was condemned to be shot. He was shot in the night before Easter morning, on the 31st of March 1923.
Fr. Constantine was ready to accept martyrdom for the faith. One of the people present at the execution, an agent of the GPU (the communist secret police) says in a letter to the priest's lawyer that this dean of the St. Petersburg clergy had managed to write a letter to the Pope, stating that he was completely at peace. He addressed these words to one of the other secret police present: "I ask that you convey my last greeting to Archbishop Cieplak. Bear witness to him that to the last minute I have remained faithful to the Apostolic See." After he had said these words he was shot in the head. According to a second version of the events "at the place of execution the Prelate crossed himself, blessed his executioner and his two assistants, and turned toward the wall, beginning to whisper the words of a prayer. The executioner's bullet cut short his prayer."
From the very moment of his death there has been a conviction among the faithful that he was a holy man, and the memory of his martyrdom has been kept. His memory is alive in the parish of St. Catherine in St. Petersburg, and his stole is also kept there. Prayers for his intercession are offered by the faithful in Russia and abroad, and the memory of his martyrdom is recalled in priest's sermons. Several publications have been devoted to Fr. Constantine.
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