About the Translation

Background and Context

The biographies posted on this website are translated from Kniga pamiati: Martirolog Katolicheskoi Tserkvi v SSSR [Book of Remembrance: A Martyrology of the Catholic Church in the USSR] (Moscow, 2000), which memorializes the life and death of 1,900 Latin and Eastern Rite Catholics – clergy, religious and lay – who were persecuted under the Soviet regime. The entries were collected and edited by Father Bronisƚaw Czaplicki and Irina Osipova on behalf of the Martyrology Commission for the Jubilee Year 2000 established by the Apostolic Administration for Catholics of North European Russia. It is truly amazing that such a voluminous collection was assembled and prepared for publication by the year 2000, only nine years after the opening of the archives of the state security organs of the former Soviet Union, the source of most of the material. The compilers consulted with colleagues in regional archives spread across the entire country. The archival sources are listed in the Bibliography

The work of the Martyrology Commission laid the foundation for the next step to be taken. On January 30, 2002, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation inaugurated the “Catholic New Martyrs of Russia,” a program to advance the canonization of Russian Catholic martyrs of the twentieth century. Sixteen were chosen for this formal procedure. The process toward their beatification was assigned the title “Cause of the Beatification or the Declaration of Martyrdom of Archbishop Edward Profittlich, SJ, and Fifteen Companions.” The cause was officially opened on May 31, 2003, and from that date these sixteen martyrs are known as “Servants of God”:

  • Archimandrite Fabian Abrantowicz, MIC
  • Mother Catherine (Anna) Abrikosova, OP
  • Father Epifanius Akulov
  • Monsignor Konstanty Budkiewicz
  • Father Franciszek Budrys
  • Father Paweƚ Chomicz
  • Archimandrite Andrzej Cikoto, MIC
  • Father Antoni Czerwiński
  • Father Potapy Emelianov
  • Sister Rose of the Heart of Mary (Galina) Jętkiewicz, OP
  • Camilla Kruczelnicka
  • Bishop Antoni Malecki
  • Father Janis Mendriks, MIC
  • Bishop Edward Profittlich, SJ
  • Father Stanisƚaw Szulmiński, SAC
  • Father Jan Trojgo

Fr. Czaplicki was the original Postulator for the Cause. He has been succeeded by Fr. Alexey Yandushev-Rumyantsev. On January 17, 2014, the cause of Servant of God Edward Profittlich, SJ, was transferred to Estonia, and the original process was renamed “Cause of the Beatification or the Declaration of Martyrdom of Bishop Antoni Malecki and Fourteen Companions.”

Kniga pamiati includes other Servants of God (as well as some who have already been beatified) whose causes originated in other jurisdictions and are proceeding under other titles. Their current titles have been added to their names.

The seminal work of Fr. Czaplicki and Irina Osipova is posted on the website of the Catholic New Martyrs of Russia www.catholicmartyrs.org, complete with Fr. Czaplicki’s introductory essay on the history of the persecutions, photographs (“mug shots”) of hundreds of the clergy and laity profiled, and a bibliography. The editors anticipated that the information gathered prior to 2000 would be supplemented over time, and the office of the Postulator has served as the recipient and custodian of this on-going documentation. Full-length books, dissertations, articles, and letters from relatives, former camp-mates, and parishioners add to what is known about Catholics persecuted under the Soviet regime. The referenced website is the best source of the most current information.

Of particular note are the in-depth articles regarding the fifteen candidates for beatification prepared by the office of the Postulator of the Cause. Translations of these articles are forthcoming.

It should be noted that not all 1,900 persons included in the Martyrology died a martyr’s death. They were all persecuted by the State to one extent or another, some shot by firing squad, others sent to “corrective labor” camps where their death was likely, others banished to remote corners of the Soviet Union where they languished and suffered for years. Some were sentenced and resentenced more than three times over the course of thirty years. “Fate thereafter unknown” are the final words for 874 entries. Others, however, returned to their home parishes or emigrated abroad and continued their heroic ministry well into old age, in Africa, Brazil, Australia, England and the United States. A few were still living as of the date of publication (2000), but at the present moment (2014) I believe there is only one survivor, Nijole Sadunaite.

Notes Regarding the Translation

The original entries were in an “encyclopedic” style, and I made no attempt to alter the style in the translation.

In some cases I was able to refer to the work cited by the editors in support of an entry, and when I noticed a detail that the editors for whatever reason had omitted, I included it if I believed it would be of interest to an English-speaking reader. For example, Fr. Roman Dzwonkowski usually included the diocese for which a priest was ordained and sometimes the number of parishioners and the name of the local church, and I tended to insert these details into the translation.

In some cases I went beyond the work cited to find additional information, especially concerning former camp inmates who were amnestied and emigrated to the United States. This information was then noted at the end of the entry, as a “Translator’s Note.” Especially helpful with respect to the Volga Germans and the Black Sea Germans were the websites of various heritage organizations, especially the Center for Volga German Studies, www.cvgs.org, and www.blackseagr.org for the Black Sea Germans. These websites and any other sources used are included in the “Translator’s Note.”

The names of cities and towns changed in at least two ways: in some instances an entirely new name was assigned. Thus a person could have been born in St. Petersburg, educated in Petrograd, worked in Leningrad, and died in St. Petersburg – all at the same street address. In other instances, the name remained the same, but the language changed. Thus another person could have been born in Lemberg, educated in Lwów, and worked in Lviv – all names that drive from the original Latin Leopolis!

In the first case, where the name itself was changed, I tended to use the name in effect at the time. In the second case, I attempted at first to use the language of the government at the time (e.g., Łuck in 1938, Lutsk in 1948), but I soon abandoned that effort in favor of current [2014] spelling – thus Lvov and Lwów are both translated as Lviv, and Ƚuck is Lutsk, even when it was part of Poland. This created some odd sentences, such as “…he returned to Poland, where he served in the Diocese of Lutsk.” Reader, please forbear!

I relied on the Wikipedia entry for the current spelling of geographical names because this seemed to be the source that will prevail in establishing the conventions used.

Family names presented a more sensitive issue. Fr. Czaplicki declined to note nationality for a number of reasons. In any event, transliterating non-Russian names from Cyrillic using conventional transliteration schemes resulted in gibberish. I tried to use German spellings for German names, Polish spellings for Polish names, etc. Unfortunately, except in a very few instances, I was not able to distinguish Ukrainian names. Regardless of the fact that many of these people lived in present-day Ukraine, many of them lived in regions that were previously in eastern Poland or they were arrested for “espionage on behalf of Poland” or “Polish nationalism,” or they were amnestied “as Polish citizens” in 1942 or 1943 and released from the camps. Polish spellings seemed warranted. As to Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian names – these will need to be reviewed and revised.

As for the Christian given names, I attempted to match the name with the language of the family name (e.g., Andrzej, Andrey, Andreas – Polish, Ukrainian, German) – but in some cases, I used an Anglicized form, especially where the person has become widely known under an Anglicized name – for example, Mother Catherine Abrikosova.

I intentionally Anglicized all names of churches (e.g., St. Anthony of Padua, St. Casimir), as this seems to be a common convention.

Geraldine Kelley, May 2014