September 2009 - St. Gorazd

St. Gorazd,  +1942

Bishop of Prague and Czechoslovakia. 

September 4th.

Matthias Pavlik was born on May 26, 1879, in Moravia, later known as the Czech Republic. Born into a Roman Catholic family, Matthias studied at the Catholic theological faculty and was ordained a priest. As a student he was interested in the mission of Ss. Cyril and Methodius and of the historic Orthodox Faith of his ancestors. With the establishment of Czechoslovakia at the end of WW1 many of the Slavic people of the region returned to the Orthodox Church of their heritage, including Fr. Pavlik .  The Serbian Orthodox Church received the new converts. As a leader in Czechoslovakia, the Serbian Church decided to consecrate Fr. Pavlik as a bishop for his homeland. On September 24, 1921, was consecrated Bishop of Prague taking the name Gorazd, a disciple of St. Cyril.

Over the next twenty years, Bishop. Gorazd and his faithful followers organized parishes and built churches and schools throughout Czechoslovakia to assist those who had returned to their ancestral Orthodox Faith.

In 1938 the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and SS-Obergruppenfuher Reinhard Heydrich was assigned as ruler. On May 27, 1942, Czech resistance fighters' assasinated Heydrick near the Orthodox Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Prague.  In their escape, the group took refuge in the Cathedral. Bishop Gorazd saw that they were cared for and sheltered. On June 18, the Nazis discovered the hiding place and the all members of the resistance group were killed.

Reprisals came quickly. The two priests of the Cathedral and the lay church officials were arrested. Bishop Gorazd, wishing to protect his priests and fellow believers, took the blame for the actions in the Cathedral on himself, even writing letters to the Nazi authorities. On June 27, 1942, he was arrested and tortured. On September 4, 1942, Bishop Gorazd, the Cathedral priests and lay leaders were executed by firing squad.

The Orthodox churches in Czechoslovakia were closed and the Church forbidden to operate. It wasn't until the end of the war that the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia would function again.

Because of these actions the Orthodox Faithful, led by their bishop, proved the qualities of their Church in bravery and devotion to the cause of justice. On May 4, 1961, the Serbian Orthodox Church recognized Bp. Gorazd as a martyr, and on August 24, 1987, he was glorified as a saint in the Cathedral of St. Gorazd in Czechoslovakia.


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