Blessed Emilian Kovch

Blessed Emilian KovchAlso known as

  • Omeljan Kovc
  • Emilian Kowacz



Greek Catholic. Seminarian at Lviv, Ukraine and Rome, Italy; graduated from the College of Sergius and Bachus in Rome. Married, and father of six. Ordained in 1911. Worked throughout Galacia, and with Ukrainian immigrants to Yugoslavia. Chaplain to Ukrainian soldiers fighting the Bolsheviks in 1919. Parish priest in 1922 at Peremyshliany, Ukraine, a village of 5,000, most of whom were Jewish. An active priest, he organized pilgrimages and youth groups, and welcomed poor and orphaned children of all faiths into his home.

When the Nazis invaded Ukraine, they began rounding up Jews. To save them, Father Emilian began baptizing them, and listing them as Christians. The Nazis were wise to this trick, and had prohibited it. Emilian continued, but was arrested by the Gestapo in December 1942. Deported to the Majdanek concentration camp in August 1943. There he ministered to prisoners, hearing confessions, and celebrating Mass when possible. Martyred in the ovens.

Recognized on 9 September 1999 as a Righteous Ukrainian by the Jewish Council of Ukraine.





Additional Information


Gestapo Officer: “Did you know that it is prohibited to baptize Jews?”
Father Kovtch: “I didn’t know anything.”
Gestapo Officer: “Do you now know it?”
Father Kovtch: “Yes.”
Gestapo Officer: “Will you continue to do it?”
Father Kovtch: “Of course.”

With the exception of Heaven, this is the only place I wish to be. Here we are all the same: Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians. I am the only priest. When I celebrate the Liturgy, they pray for all, each one in his own language. Doesn’t God understand all languages? Father Kovtch in a letter from the concentration camp to his children

Yesterday, fifty prisoners were executed. If I wasn’t here, who would help them endure a moment like that? What more could I ask the Lord? Don’t worry about me. Rejoice with me! Father Kovtch in a letter from the concentration camp to his children

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Emilian Kovch“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 April 2018. Web. 16 October 2021. <>