Biography of Father Mieczysƚaw Szawdzinis

Born into a peasant family on September 4, 1895, in Daugeliszyn, Święciany district, Vilnius province. From May 1901 he was living with his family in Riga, where he completed the Peter I Real School in 1912. He then completed his studies at the Archdiocesan Seminary and the Catholic Theological Academy in St. Petersburg; ordained September 6, 1918. From September he served in Sacred Heart of Mary parish in Petrograd; in 1919 he became its vicar; from 1920 he served at St. Nicholas parish in Luga; from 1921 he also tended parishes in Pskov, Kronstadt, Vyritsa Station, Ligovo Station, and Kolpino; in 1921 he became pastor of the parish in Yamburg. From December 1921 he was a professor at the seminary; in 1923 he became chancellor of the curia; from 1924 he was secretary of the archdiocesan administration – at this time he also travelled temporarily to Petrozavodsk, Tver and Yamburg, and in July 1926, to Cherkassy. From July 1925 he was again pastor of the procathedral church in Leningrad, where he was arrested January 26, 1927, but soon released on stipulation not to leave. February 5, 1928 – again arrested; charged with “teaching in an illegal seminary and anti-Soviet contact with foreigners.” August 12, 1928 – sentenced under Article 58-4 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to ten years in corrective labor camp [OGPU Collegium]. Sent to Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp, where he arrived August 28. In July 1929 he was transferred to Anzer Island where, on July 5, 1932, he was arrested in a case against Catholic clergy who were charged with “creation of an anti-Soviet group that conducted anti-Soviet agitation, clandestinely celebrated Mass and religious rites and maintained an illegal contact with a free worker for purposes of transmitting abroad information of an espionage character about the situation of Catholics in the USSR.” At his interrogation he stated: “I have been and always be a conscientious defender of the interests of the Catholic Church and I will never agree with any measures undertaken by the Soviet regime against religion.” The investigator recommended that he be held separately until the end of his term. After the investigation he remained at Solovetsky. In 1936 he was released from the camp and left for Bryansk, where he was arrested June 28, 1938, with a large group of laity. Most likely he was sentenced to death and shot. In 1928, he stated at his interrogation: “Prior to 1923 I looked upon the Soviet regime as a temporary phenomenon. Since 1923, after the trial of Cieplak and other priests, I have recognized that I must reckon with the Soviet regime as a regime.” Sources: GARF, f. 8406, op. 2, d. 5199; Dzwonkowski, pp. 461-462; Osipova (1996), p. 211; Shkarovskii, pp. 23, 245-246; Madała, p. 148
Variant Names:
Szawdzinis, Mieczysƚaw; Shavdinis, Mechislav Petrovich
Švenčionys (Lithuania); Rīga (Latvia); Saint Petersburg (Russia); Luga (Leningradskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Pskov (Russia); Lut︠s︡ʹk (Ukraine); Poznań (Poland); Toruń (Poland)
male; clergy and religious; executed