Cardinal Slipyj

February 17, 1892

Josyf Slipyj was born into the family of Ivan Kobernytsky-Slipyj and Anastasiya Dychkovsky in the village of Zazdrist, Terebovlya district, Ternopil region, Ukraine.


Slipyj completed secondary education, graduating with honors from Gymnasium in Ternopil.


Slipyj entered the Lviv Greek Catholic Theological Seminary. As a promising second-year student, he was sent to Innsbruck, Austria, to study philosophy and theology at the local university.

September 30, 1917

Slipyj was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky in the town of Univ. He continued his studies at the University of Innsbruck, where he defended his dissertation “The Concept of Eternal Life in St. John the Evangelist.”


Slipyj received his doctorate in theology. He subsequently wrote a Habilitationsschrift, a post-doctorate thesis, in German, on “The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity by the Byzantine Patriarch Photius,” which he defended at the University of Innsbruck.

November 1920

Slipyj went to Rome to continue his studies at the Gregorian University and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He wrote in Latin the work De principo spirationis in SS. Trinitate and, after passing an additional examination, received the title of Magister aggregatus. He studied English, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, and French.


Slipyj returned from his studies in Rome as a professor of dogmatic theology and taught dogmatics at the Lviv Theological Seminary. He co-founded the Theological Scholarly Society in Lviv and began publishing the quarterly journal Богословія (Theology), serving as its editor until 1939.


Slipyj was nominated rector of the Theological Seminary.

February 22, 1928

Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky approved the Statute of the Academy. Slipyj became the Rector of the Lviv Theological Academy.


The Faculty of Philosophy at the Lviv Theological Academy was established. Slipyj was a сanon, metropolitan archpriest, and archdeacon of the Metropolitan Chapter. He wrote works on theological, philosophical, literary, and historical topics, as well as on art and church law. He published the series Proceedings of the Greek Catholic Academy.


On Slipyj’s initiative, a Union Congress was held in Lviv, dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the death of the Metropolitan of Kyiv Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky.

December 22, 1939

With the blessing of Pope Pius XII and at the request of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, Slipyj was ordained archbishop with the right of succession. The ordination was clandestine. Slipyj wrote: “During times of persecution, consecration is not an honor, but first and foremost a burden.”


Despite the war, Slipyj resumed the work of the Theological Academy.

November 1, 1944

Slipyj became Metropolitan following the death of Andrey Sheptytsky.

April 10, 1945

Slipyj was arrested by the NKVD.

April 11, 1945 – May 10, 1946

Slipyj was interrogated in the prison on Lontsky Street in Lviv, Lukyanivska prison in Kyiv, and Lubyanka prison in Moscow. Behind closed doors, the military tribunal sentences Slipyj to eight years in Siblag (Siberian concentration camp).

He began in Novosibirsk. Slipyj wrote: “The journey to exile can take months. If the convict survives, he is so exhausted after various train changes, different guards, hunger, cold… He comes to the camp terribly thin, exhausted, and chained to the rough boards, cold as ice. In addition to the exile, that physical torment kills a person…” (homily on the exile of St. Clement, Pope).

Slipyj was then sent to Mariinsk, Kemerovo region, where he had pneumonia and dysentery. He was denied inpatient treatment and sent to the next camp.

In Boimy, Slipyj broke his arm (“others break their ribs, and you broke only your arm,” said the doctor).

In Kirov, Russia, Slipyj was in a group of up to 40 people, including three priests and two bishops (Slipyj and Charnetsky).


At the camp in Pechora, Inta, “the Metropolitan was sitting tired on his backpack… Suddenly two young men burst into the room, sized up those present. Then, they jumped on to the Metropolitan and disappeared again. Together with them the bishop’s luggage disappeared. The Prince of the Church lay on the floor, blood dripped from his mouth and nose” (Memoirs of Prof. Grobauer, an Austrian citizen).

During the month-long travel to the camp in Kosya Komi, USSR, Potma: “His Beatitude was terribly sick, with a fever,” remembers Ferdinand Tsepihal.

August 1948-1949

Slipyj was an inmate in camp No. 23 in the Temyakov district of Mordovia.


Slipyj was made cardinal in pectore.


Slipyj was sent repeatedly to testify in court, then returned to Potma, and then to camp point No. 14.

May 15, 1953

Slipyj was summoned to the Commission, where he was pressured again to join Orthodoxy, with the promise that his titles would be restored and the possibility that he be granted the highest position in the Russian Orthodox Church. Slipyj absolutely refused, after which he was sent to a facility for the disabled.

June 1953

Slipyj was summoned to Moscow to establish contacts with the Vatican. He met with Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Slipyj wrote from memory a history of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the USSR.


After the execution of the Director of the Secret Police Lavrentiy Beria, Slipyj was sent to a settlement in the village of Maklakovo near Yeniseisk (Siberia) to a home for the disabled. He wrote from memory the history of the Ecumenical Church and Pastoral Epistles, which he transmitted through trusted people to Ukraine. The KGB intercepted the History manuscript.


On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Slipyj’s priesthood, Pope Pius XII sent greetings to the Metropolitan in prison. The letter did not reach him, but, along with the confiscated History manuscript, became a cause of a new arrest. He was taken to Yeniseisk, later to Krasnoyarsk, then to Kyiv.

June 1959

Slipyj was sentenced to another seven years in prison. He was sent first to Kamchatka, and later to the Taishet camps.


Slipjy arrived at the Potma forced labor camp in Mordovia. Fellow prisoner Abraham Shifrin describes circumstances at Potma as follows: “Transportation is in a cattle car, packed with prisoners; [the camp is] furnished with watchtowers, machine guns, floodlights. Through a small, barred window measuring 10×10 cm one can see the vast expanses of Siberia.” Points of transit included Sverdlovsk, Chuni, and Novochunki.

December 1960

Slipyj was transferred to Kyiv. He was asked about his “maximum and minimum” demands to the government. Authorities tried to persuade him to issue a statement against the Pope and against nationalists abroad. He answered: “You persecute me and my Church, destroy everything that is, and still want me to oppose those who are with me and who defend themselves.”

October 1961

The Supreme Court of the Soviet Union determined Slipyj to be a particularly dangerous recidivist and sent him to Mordovia. He arrived in the village of Java with a case of pneumonia.

January 26, 1963

Slipyj was released by Nikita Khrushchev at the intercession of Pope John XXIII, United States President John F. Kennedy and emissary to Khrushchev Norman Cousins. In Moscow, before being deported to Rome, he demanded permission to say goodbye to his family. Posing as a member of the family, the hegumen of the Redemptorist monastery in Ternopil, Fr. Vasyl Vsevolod Velychkovsky, arrived. In a hotel room, Slipyj ordained him bishop of Lutsk and appointed him his vicar.

February 9, 1963

Slipyj arrived at the Basilian monastery of Grottaferrata in Italy. He met with Pope John XXIII and presented the Pontiff with a map of the USSR indicating the concentration camps in which he was held.

March 3, 1963

In his Easter epistle to all Ukrainians, Slipyj called upon the faithful “to preserve unity at all cost and though scattered everywhere, to remain united in the Eucharist and in the Easter faith, expressed in the words “’Christ is risen!’”

March 28, 1963

For the first time, Slipyj participated in the Conference (later Synod) of Ukrainian Bishops.

October 11, 1963

At the Second Vatican Council, in the presence of 2,500 delegates from around the world, Slipyj called for the elevation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to Patriarchal Dignity. The Council unanimously supported him.

November 25, 1963

Slipyj issued a document establishing the St. Clement Pope Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome. He renewed the Theological Scholarly Society and the publication of the journal Богословія (Theology),

December 23, 1963

Slipyj received the title of Archbishop Major, approved by Pope Paul VI.

February 22, 1965

Slipyj was formally made cardinal, becoming the fourth cardinal in the history of Ukraine. He became a member of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

October 1, 1965

Slipyj bestowed his blessing on the restoration of the Studite monastic charter.


Slipyj purchased and restored the Church of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus, the oldest Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish in Italy.

September 27, 1969

Slipyj consecrated St. Sophia Cathedral in Rome. He later wrote: “With the sacrifices of the entire Ukrainian people of God, in particular its laity, and my humble work, there were built: the Ukrainian Catholic University – the center of scholarship; the Hagia Sophia – the sign and symbol of the indestructibility of God’s temple on Earth, the place of prayer; the Studite monastery – the eternal flame of Eastern Christian monasticism and piety!”


Slipyj visited Ukrainian communities in the diaspora in order to restore Eucharistic communion with them and revive church and religious life. He visited Canada, USA, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Portugal, England, France, Austria, India, and Malta (14 countries in total).


Nineteen of the 21 bishops of the UGCC appealed to the Pope to confer the title of Patriarch on Josyf Slipyj.


Pope Paul VI refused.


Slipyj addressed Ukrainians in Canada: “You must remain unified by one language, one faith in Christ, one prayer, one system of worship, one rite, one national Ukrainian consciousness, one great love for our heritage of princes and warriors, for our culture, literature, art, for our traditions and customs of government, cemented by our history for many centuries. It is necessary to ‘manifest the unity of the Ukrainian nation in all countries of its settlement.’”


At the parish of Sergius and Bacchus, Slipyj founded a museum of Ukrainian art and a hotel complex.

October 23, 1971

At the Pontifical Synod of Bishops, Slipyj presented a paper, “The Church of the Martyrs,” on the persecution of the Ukrainian Church and the Ukrainian people.


Slipyj organized six branches of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

July 12, 1975

At the Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Father Ivan Hryniokh, a former OUN-UPA chaplain, first proclaimed Josyf Slipyj as Patriarch in Greek. The title gradually came into common usage in Ukrainian parishes all over the world.

August 1978

Slipyj addressed all cardinals and prominent church figures from around the world accredited by the Apostolic See, informing them of the huge losses and persecution of the UGCC and asking them to resist the onslaught of communism.

March 24, 1980

Pope John Paul II convened an Extraordinary Synod of Ukrainian Bishops, which announced the election of Metropolitan Ivan Myroslav Lyubachivsky of Philadelphia as coadjutor to Patriarch Josyf Slipyj.


1970 -1981

Slipyj wrote his “Testament” in which he reflects on the future of the Church and various aspects of church and social life in Ukraine and the diaspora.

November 25 and December 2, 1980

The regular Synod of the UGCC adopted a declaration denouncing the Lviv Pseudo-Synod of 1946 which officially liquidated the UGCC.

September 7, 1984

The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Cardinal Josyf Slipyj died.

April 17, 1991

Slipyj was rehabilitated posthumously by the Soviet government.

August 27, 1992 (47 years after his first arrest)

Slipyj’s mortal remains were returned to his native land. He was laid to rest in the crypt of St. George’s Cathedral in Lviv.

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