The Arrest of Fathers Maximus Sandovich and Ignatius Hudima

Despite cruel persecutions, Father Maxim us fearlessly continued to carry out his spiritual duties in Hrab. He spent seven weeks under arrest in Jaslo only because he had said at a hearing in Lviv "My only politics is the Gospel?", and because it was not only his own parishioners in Hrab, but peasants from the surrounding villages, who were attending his services in vast numbers. Indeed, there was so little room in the little chapel that the people stood huddled, around the open windows to hear, and even stretched out over the rafters of the loft to listen to the hymns and sermons.
But the saint's pastoral and missionary ministry was not to last for long, for the militia were ever vigilant. In 1912, in preparation for the great feasts. Father Maxim us and his wife traveled to Lviv to buy candles for his chapel and other items required for the divine services, On leaving Lviv, they went to the village of Zaluchie, in western Galicia, where Father Ignatius Hudima, a schoolmate from the Zhitomir Seminary, was priest. Father Maximus intended to make his confession to Father Ignatius. On the following day, gendarmes arrived at the home of Father Hudima and arrested both priests by orders of the local warden on the charge of espionage/ it being alleged that while they were strolling about the town, they paced off the length of a nearby bridge. The charge was made by the bridge-keeper, a Pole. Furthermore, Yankel Schaffer, the landowner's agent for the village, stated that he knew that both priests had received payment for spying from the journalist Symeon Bendasiuk of Lviv. And so Bendasiuk was also arrested.
Two days after the arrest of Fathers Maximus and Ignatius and Symeon Bendasiuk, Basil Kodra, a student, was arrested in the village of Svyatov, near Hrab. He was charged with travelling around the villages of Lemkovina showing colored illustrations from Gogol's famous novel Taras Bulba!
Fathers Maximus and Ignatius, and Basil Kodra, were transported to Lviv where, with Bendasiuk, they were kept under heavy guard. After preliminary hearings, a court set Basil Kodra free on payment of a fine of 8,000 crowns; but Fathers Maximus and Ignatius, and Symeon Bendasiuk were held until their alleged espionage was investigated. They were to languish in prison for two years.
The case was transferred in Lviv to a capital tribunal. It began on Monday, March 9th, 1914, and lasted until June 6th --- two and a half months. During the trial, the Austrian governmental and military authorities tried to prove that the accused really had been involved in spying for Russia. Many false witnesses were brought forward, but Russian and Polish lawyers were able to prove to the court, by means of many witnesses, that the accused were absolutely innocent of any espionage, had not broken the peace, nor conducted any kind of agitation for the cession of Galicia to Russia.
On the basis of the indisputable proofs of witnesses --- mostly residents of Zaluchie, Hrab, and surrounding villages, as well as witnesses from Lviv and other Galician cities, and people from Bukovina and Subcarpathian Rus' --- the judges (nine Poles and 3 Jews) acknowledged the innocence of the accused and set them at liberty.
Thus delivered from the threat of execution, the priests returned to their parents' homes --- Saint Maximus to Zhdynia, and Father Ignatius to the village of Dichkovtsa, near Brodov.
After the arrest of their spiritual father, the Russian Orthodox inhabitants of Hrab and neighboring villages had gathered together on Sundays and holy days to pray, chanting the hymns of the Church and fortifying themselves with the hope that Father Maximus would be justified and returned to them, and would again be able to celebrate the divine services for them according to the rules and rites of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The seeds of Orthodoxy which Saint Maximus sowed in Hrab began to sprout openly, first in the neighboring villages, then in their county and the next, and then all throughout Lemkovina. The authorities in Gorlice ordered the mayors of villages where the inhabitants had declared themselves Orthodox not to allow the Orthodox to assemble. When it became obvious that these orders were ineffective. Pan Michka, the warden of Gorlice, appointed the Pole Kaszubski as his commissar on December 9th, 1913, whose task was to force all the Orthodox to return to the Catholic faith.2
After Saint Maximus' return to his native village, his former parishioners and people from nearby villages came to him and begged him to serve the divine services for them, even if under the open sky. Thus again, in the spirit of self-denial, the holy priest resumed his missionary activity in Lemkovina; it lasted all of six weeks.

2 His success was only temporary, for no sooner was the region assigned to Poland after World War I, than all the villages returned to the Orthodox Faith of their fathers and obtained Orthodox priests of their own.

The Declaration of War and its Consequences - continued.

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Original page design and layout by Walter Maksimovich

Originally Composed: April 7th, 1999.
Date last modified: December 1st, 2000