Biography of Father Heronim Cerpento
- Born March 8, 1888, in Krivichi, Vilnius province. He first studied pharmacy, but later graduated from Zhytomyr Seminary and enrolled in the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg. Ordained in 1914 for the Archdiocese of Mogiliev. From 1915 he was pastor of the church in Shatsilki, a filial of the parish in Bobrujsk. In 1917 Archbishop Ropp sent him to serve in Siberia; at first he was pastor of the parish in Tomsk; from 1922, in Barabinskoye; and from 1929, he was administrator of parishes in the Yenisei region. In December 1929 he was arrested in Tomsk and sentenced under Articles 16 and 139 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to six months in prison [OGPU Collegium]. From May 1930 he served in parishes in Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk; from 1925 he resided in Krasnoyarsk, where he was pastor of [Transfiguration] parish, and also tended parishes in Tomsk, Kamensk, Achinsk and a parish in Novosokolsk region until he was forbidden by the GPU to leave Krasnoyarsk. In 1931 he was named Apostolic Administrator of a large part of Siberia. October 16, 1931 – arrested, but soon released. February 25, 1932 – Fr. Heronim sent the Polish embassy a letter expressing his gratitude for financial assistance (150 rubles) received from the Polish Red Cross; he asked that future assistance be rendered in another way, as the authorities looked askance at financial assistance. The letter fell into the hands of the NKVD and on June 2, 1935, Fr. Heronim was arrested along with a group of Poles on charges of “creation of a counter-revolutionary group and espionage on behalf of Polish intelligence.” March 31, 1936 – transferred to Novosibirsk Prison for further investigation. June 24, 1936 – sentenced under Articles 58-3, -6, -10, and -11 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [Military Tribunal, Siberian Military District]. He was serving his term in Krasnoyarsk Prison when he was drawn into the investigation in the case against the “Siberian Center of the POV [Polish Military Organization].” He was accused of purportedly being a member of the Siberian POV and, being connected with the Polish General Headquarters and the Vatican, having carried out counter-revolutionary insurgent activity among the Polish colonies in Siberia over the course of several years.” January 4, 1938 – sentenced to death [NKVD Collegium and USSR Office of Public Prosecutor]. January 18, 1938 – shot, in Krasnoyarsk Prison.
We present excerpts from the indictment in connection with the charge of espionage: “In the documents conveyed by Cerpento to foreign diplomatic missions through the aforementioned persons, he informed them of the Soviet regime’s persecution of religion, the closing of churches, the arrests of church workers, the harassment of Catholics, forced collectivization and de-kulakization.”
Source: Archive of Krasnoyarsk Memorial; Archives of Directorate, FSB, Krasnoyarsk krai; GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 5082,; Dzwonkowski, pp. 188-189; Madaƚa, p. 32; Osipova (1996), p. 209; Investigatory Matter 27, Archive TsGAOO (Ukraine)
- Variant Names:
- Tserpento, Ieronim Ieronimovich; Cerpento, Heronim
- Krasnoi︠a︡rsk (Russia)
- clergy and religious; male; executed