Boļeslavs Sloskāns

Boļeslavs Sloskāns (1893-1981) was a Latvian Roman Catholic bishop. He was born 31 August 1893 near Stirniene and died on 18 April 1981 in Leuven, Belgium.

His Excellency

Boļeslavs Sloskāns
Apostolic Administrator of Minsk
Apostolic Administrator of Mohilev
ChurchRoman Catholic
SeeTitular See of Cillium
Appointed13 August 1926
In office1926–1981
Other post(s)Titular Bishop of Cillium
Ordination21 January 1917
by Jan Cieplak
Consecration10 May 1926
by Michel d'Herbigny
Personal details
Born(1893-08-31)August 31, 1893
Stirniene, Latvia
DiedApril 17, 1981(1981-04-17) (aged 87)
Leuven, Belgium
BuriedBasilica of the Assumption, Aglona
MottoHostia pro Fratribus
Coat of armsBoļeslavs Sloskāns's coat of arms


In 1911 Boļeslavs Sloskāns entered the Saint Petersburg Roman Catholic Theological Academy, Russia. He was ordained priest for the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Mohilev by Bishop Jan Cieplak on 21 January 1917 in St. Petersburg. He then served as a parish priest in Russia for several years. He even renounced Latvian citizenship so that he could remain in Russia after Latvian independence.[1] After Bishop Cieplak was appointed archbishop of Vilnius on 14 December 1925, Fr. Sloskāns was appointed bishop on 5 May 1926.

He was ordained titular bishop of Cillium in secret by Bishop Michel d'Herbigny, S.J., on 10 May 1926 in Moscow. Bishop Aleksander Frison was also ordained during the same secret ceremony. On 13 August 1926 Bishop Sloskāns was appointed apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Mohilev as well as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Minsk. On the same day he assisted Bishop d'Herbigny in the ordination of Anton Malecki as titular bishop of Dionysiana and apostolic administrator for Leningrad.

On 17 September 1927 Bishop Sloskāns was arrested in Minsk by the Soviet authorities. He was then sentenced to three years in prison based on false evidence. He was released in October 1930 after completing his sentence. On 8 November 1930 he was arrested again just one week after arriving back in Mohilev. He served an additional two years in prison until he was repatriated to Latvia on 22 January 1933 in exchange for an accused Soviet spy in the custody of the Latvian government.

Life in exileEdit

After leaving the Soviet Union, Bishop Sloskāns traveled to Rome. The Holy See had only publicly acknowledged the episcopal ordinations of Bishops Sloskāns and Malecki in 1929 when both were in Soviet prisons.[2] Pope Pius XI appointed Bishop Sloskāns an assistant to the Papal Throne on 5 April 1933 in recognition of the harsh treatment he had experienced while imprisoned.[3]

Returning to Latvia, Bishop Sloskāns continued to serve as the apostolic administrator of Mohilev and of Minsk in absentia while he took charge of the Roman Catholic seminary in Riga. In late 1944 he was evacuated to Germany to escape the advancing Soviet army. In 1946 he moved to Belgium where he established a Latvian seminary.

In 1947 Bishop Sloskāns moved to the Benedictine Abbey of Mont César in Leuven.[4] This would remain his home in exile for the remainder of his life. In 1952 Pope Pius XII appointed him Apostolic Visitor for all Russian and Belarusian Catholic émigrés.[4] His commission was expanded to include expatriate Latvian and Estonian Catholics in 1953.

On 8 April 1961 Pope John XXIII appointed him as a consultant to the Papal Commission for the Oriental Churches in preparation for the Second Vatican Council.[5] On 18 November 1964 along with Latvian bishop Jāzeps Rancāns he co-consecrated Bishop Julijans Vaivods, the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Riga and of the Diocese of Liepāja. Bishop Sloskāns participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council and died in 1981.

A memoir of his experiences in Soviet prison was published after his death. In 1993 his remains were transferred from Belgium to Aglona, where they were reinterred at the Basilica of the Assumption there. In December 2004 he was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in preparation for potential beatification.[6]

Further readingEdit

  • (in French) Boleslas Sloskans and François Rouleau (1986). Witness for God among the Godless. Aide à l'église en détresse, Mareil-Marly. ISBN 2-905287-07-1



  1. ^ Christopher Lawrence Zugger (2001), The Forgotten: Catholics of the Soviet Empire from Lenin through Stalin, p. 236, ISBN 0-8156-0679-6
  2. ^ (in Latin) EPISCOPOS, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume 21 (1929), p. 461
  3. ^ (in Italian) Assistenti al Soglio Pontifìcio, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume 25 Archived March 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (1933), p. 349
  4. ^ a b (in Latin) DECRETUM SUPER VIRTUTIBUS, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume 97, Issue 4 Archived March 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (2005), p. 419
  5. ^ (in Italian) NOMINE, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume 53 Archived October 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (1961), pp. 283-284
  6. ^ (in Latin) DECRETUM SUPER VIRTUTIBUS, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Volume 97, Issue 4 Archived March 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (2005), pp. 418-420

External linksEdit