August 9, 2018

Holy New Martyr Ignatius Bazyluk of Poland (+ 1942)

St. Ignatius Bazyluk (Feast Day - August 9)

The Holy New Martyr Ignatius (Bazyluk) was born in Poland sometime in 1860s, and received the name Jacob at his Baptism. Very little is known of his early life or where he was born, but in the period between the First and the Second World Wars he was a monk at Saint Onuphrios Monastery in Jabłeczna. At his tonsure he received the monastic name Ignatius.

Father Ignatius was one of the oldest monks in the monastery, and he fulfilled the obedience of ringing the bells for church services. When he first entered the monastery, it consisted of about a dozen monks, whose task was to offset the propaganda of the Roman Catholics and Uniates among the Orthodox population. However, the monks were unprepared for such a task and uneducated. Ignatius witnessed therefore the rise of the monastery when priests and monks came who helped restore the monastery and established a school for children, so that in 1915 there were about eighty monks and four hundred pupils in the school.

In 1915 the Germans occupied the monastery, and Ignatius with the monks fled the monastery and went to Moscow, from where only a few monks returned after the war. They returned to find the monastery in ruins, and unfriendly authorities to the Orthodox community threatened to have it shut down. There were only four monks now, and they prayed before the icon of Saint Onouphrios. By 1939 there were around a dozen or so monks who were Belarusians and Ukrainians. By this time Ignatius was the oldest monk of the community who served his duty as bell-ringer with humility and obedience.

In September of 1939, the monastery buildings were occupied by German soldiers, and they confiscated the monastery’s food supplies and livestock. In spite of this, the monks did not close the monastery, but wrote a letter of protest to the commander of the occupying army. This had no effect whatsoever upon the Germans.

On the night of August 9-10 1942, most likely under the influence of alcohol, the guards set fire to the monastery, destroying the inner section. The monks fled from the buildings and gathered in the courtyard. The Germans would not allow the fire to be put out, and they threatened to shoot the monks.

A few of the monks were able to escape, but Saint Ignatius ran to the bell tower and began ringing the bell to warn the residents of the area of the danger. He was attacked and beaten to death by some of the soldiers.

Residents of Jabłeczna arrived at the monastery to help, and they were also detained. The Germans forced the monks to dig graves, and then they shot everyone in the courtyard. There were no survivors. Saint Ignatius was buried in the monastery cemetery, but his holy relics were later transferred to the Church of Saint Onouphrios within the monastery complex.

Saint Ignatius is regarded as one of the martyrs of Chelm and Podlasie. He is commemorated on August 9, the date of his martyrdom, and on March 20, the date of his glorification by the Orthodox Church of Poland in 2003.