Biography of Father Wincenty Dejnis

Born into a lower middle class family on January 18, 1880, in Riga. Graduated from St. Petersburg Seminary and was ordained March 1, 1903. From May 1903 he was vicar of a parish in Dvinsk; from November 1905, pastor of a parish in Kopatkovichi, outside Minsk; from May through December 1908, in Yamburg. In December 1908 he was banished by tsarist authorities to Aglona Monastery. From April 1911 he was pastor of the parish in Yuriyev; from October 1912, in Gross-Veder (Latgalia); in June 1923 he was sent to the parish in Yamburg; from July 1923 he was pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Pskov; from January 1926, at Immaculate Conception parish in Leningrad, where he was arrested on February 5, 1928. Charged with “teaching religious doctrine to young, under-age children, leading an illegal monastery and collecting funds for aiding convicted priests.” August 13, 1928 – sentenced to seven years in corrective labor camp. Sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp, where he arrived August 25, 1928. In 1931 he was transferred to Anzer Island where, on July 5, 1932, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy who were charged with “creating an anti-Soviet group that was carrying out anti-Soviet agitation, secretly celebrating liturgy and religious rituals and had established illegal contact with a free person for transmitting abroad information of an espionage nature about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” The investigators recommended that he be charged under Article 58-10 and his file transferred to the Secret Department of the OGPU, Leningrad Military District. He stated during his interrogation, “I am ready to give my life for my Catholic convictions.” July 22, 1932 – transported to Leningrad Prison as” one of the leaders who had very boldly and daringly led the group of priests.” May 27, 1933 – sentenced to one year in a penalty solitary confinement block [Special Troika, OGPU Collegium]. Sent to Ladeinos Pole Station camp point on the Kirov Railroad. September 26, transported to Moscow and interned in Butyrka Prison. In October he was released and went to Lithuania as part of a prisoner exchange; November 29 the Polish Red Cross received a postcard from him from Kaunas, in which he wrote of his wish to provide material assistance to convicted priests. From 1934 he served at a parish in Tallin. In June 1934 he visited Vilnius where on June 22 he gave an interview to a correspondent from Warsaw in which he described in detail his life in the USSR. He continued to serve in his parish during the Soviet and German occupations. In 1944, with the approach of Soviet troops, he left for Germany. In 1952 he moved to the United States, where he died (exact date and place of death unknown). Sources: Archive of the Directorate, FSB for St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast; GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 1438; Dzwonkowski, pp. 208-209; Nowicki, p. 7; Osipova (1996), p. 164; Shkarovskii, pp. 218-219; Investigatory Matter 590614, Central Archive, FSB, Russian Federation; Madała, pp. 45-46 [Father Wincenty Dejnis died in Chicago c. 1961. This information as well as the photograph of Father Wincenty Dejnis (Tallinn, 1936) was provided to the University of Notre Dame Libraries by one of his descendants in July 2014]. More information at
Variant Names:
Dejnis, Wincenty; Deinis, Vikentii Vikent'evich
Rīga (Latvia); Daugavpils (Latvia); Minsk (Belarus); Kingisepp (Russia); Aglona (Latvia); Velikiĭ Novgorod (Russia); Latvia; Pskov (Russia); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Anzerski Island (Russia); Moscow (Russia); Lithuania; Kaunas (Lithuania); Tallinn (Estonia); Vilnius (Lithuania); Germany; United States
male; clergy and religious; survived
Father Wincenty Dejnis