An obituary of Mykhailo Harasevych, Baron von Neustern

We post here an English translation of Harasevych’s obituary published first in Polish in the Gazeta Lwowska and then reprinted in German in the Wiener Zeitung. You can learn from it about the patron saint of our project.

The Wiener Zeitung issue with Harasevych’s obituary. Source: Austrian National Library.

We post this tentative translation of Harasevych’s obituary, not only because it offers a relatively comprehensive narrative of his life, but also because it allows you to see how the account of his career could be interpreted and instrumentalised for political purposes. According to Amvrozii Androkhovych, the author of the text was Hryhorii Iakhymovych, who might have been Baron von Neustern’s relative (Iakhymovych’s mother was de domo Harasevych, but this surname is quite common). In any case, his career resembled that of Harasevych himself in many ways: after studying in Vienna he became a lecturer at the University of Lviv and a canon at the Greek Catholic cathedral chapter there. During the revolution of 1848 he was the unquestioned leader of the conservative wing of the Ruthenian national movement. The crowning moment of his  career came in 1860, when after a longer spell in Przemyśl he became the metropolitan of Galicia. 1

The text of this obituary suggests that as early as 1836 a conservative career priest of the kind of Iakhymovych could consistently appeal to the notion of a separate Ruthenian nation to legitimise the politics of his milieu. Whether this was sincere or not is of secondary importance. What remains sadly overlooked in the historiography is the fact that the liberal populists bent on the cultivation of the Ruthenian vernacular, people like Mykola Ustyianovych, Markiian Shashkevych, or Iakiv Holovatsʹkyi, were not the only claimants to introduce the talk of the ancient Ruthenian nation to the Austrian public sphere.


»A Polish-language supplement to the Lemberger Zeitung of 12 July contains the following: 2

On 29 April 1836, in the seventy-third year of his life Herr Michael Harasiewicz, Baron von Neustern, commander of the Austrian Imperial-Royal Order of Leopold, doctor of theology, archpriest at the metropolitan church of the Greek Catholic rite in Lemberg and provost of the cathedral chapter crossed the threshold of eternity; he was a man of high intellectual gifts, extensive knowledge, and remarkable services to the state and Church, an edifying priest, an eager teacher, the pride and the glory of the Ruthenian Galician nation. 3

We shall attempt a brief sketch of his life and fame, in order to pay due homage to the noble shadows of so celebrated a man, but also to provide our compatriots with a model of how highly one can elevate himself to achieve dignities through virtue, learning, and service under the just sceptre of the Sublime Monarch of the Austrian Empire.

The most reverend Herr Michael Harasiewicz was born on 23 May 1763 in Jachtorow of the Zloczow district: his father Gregor was a parish priest there of the Greek Catholic rite. The fortune of the Ruthenian parish priests was in no way enviable before the return of Galicia to the Imperial House of Austria. 4 Reduced to rely on the yields from a piece of arable land, which they were forced to work by the sweat of their brow, and on the meagre support of their poor parishioners, struggling incessantly with want of every sort, they were not able to either give their children an appropriate upbringing or to support them on their further career path. However, with the help of a patriarchal way of living, piety, and domestic virtues, they succeeded in inculcating in their children the fear of God, industriousness, and devotion to the legitimate authority ordained by God. Their motto was: Ora et labora.

Having received his first instruction in the Ruthenian language and church services while still a child in his father’s house, the young Michael was sent to the venerable Piarist fathers in Zloczow. Fully convinced that only persistent diligence and self-sacrifice would allow him to advance, he displayed so much talent there that already in the eighteenth year of his life he was deemed fit to enter the Viennese seminary at the church of Saint Barbara, where the government, with its fatherly preoccupation to secure excellent pastoral ministry, offered funding to educate youths inclined to that vocation. In Vienna, and later in Lemberg, where a general seminary was established, he dedicated all the prowess of his youth to the study of philosophy and theology; this he did with so strong an enthusiasm and such a blessed success that after five years the authorities in question felt compelled to issue him a certificate of his deep learning, manly gravity, and admirable prudence. 5

The government, able to appreciate every talent properly, entrusted him on 1 September 1787, a youth of twenty-four years, who had not yet achieved the priestly dignity, the chair of pastoral theology at the University of Lemberg. Not only the secular authority, but also the spiritual one noticed his outstanding skills, because in the very same year, in recognition of his above-mentioned characteristics, the Lemberg General Consistory appointed him the diocesan examiner with the decree of 30 October 1787. For thirteen years, until 1800, he fulfilled the duties of a full professor. At the same time, as a consequence of an aulic decree of 14 September 1792, he occupied the chair of the Ruthenian-language exegesis to the full satisfaction of the government, of the higher clergy, of the faculty of theology, and of his numerous students.

In the year 1789, on 5 August, after the prescribed examinations, he achieved the title of doctor of theology. In the year 1795 and 1796 he served as dean and representative of the faculty of theology; subsequently as chairman of the college of professors; as associate member, rapporteur, and director of the then existing Galician consessus studiorum, whose dignity he also continued to hold later in his capacity as the vicar general of the archdiocese until the dissolution of that body. 6 Next, as prorector he chaired the academic senate of the Lemberg University in the year 1805, but eventually nominated in the year 1813 as the imperial-royal commissioner for the public examinations, he occupied this distinguished post till the end of his life. This is a short outline of the deceased within the sphere of his public academic activity; his services in his pursuits as priest, citizen, and scholar are no less brilliant and significant.

In the year 1793 he conjoined himself in the sacred union of marriage with Therese of the noble house of Jablonski. And then, having chosen, after a mature reflection, the priestly career, he received the holy orders from the hands of the most reverend Herr Peter Bielanski, Ruthenian bishop of Lemberg and Halicz and imperial-royal privy councillor. Not even two years had passed from his consecration, when he became an honorary canon at the Przemysl cathedral chapter. And three years later with the support of the most reverend Herr Nicolaus Skorodynski, bishop of Lemberg and Halicz, the decree of His Imperial-Royal Apostolic Majesty of 14 August 1800 named him episcopal official and vicar general as well as the first councillor of the consistory. He occupied this post both under that shepherd and under his successor, his excellency the Most Reverend Metropolitan Angellowicz, until the year 1814.

In the year 1803 the clergy of the Lemberg diocese held a synod presided over by the Most Reverend Herr Bishop Skorodynski: among other topics, its participants deliberated upon the improvement of the clergy’s situation and the revival of the metropolitanate of Halicz, which had been abolished centuries ago. For this purpose they needed to submit their supplications at the throne of the Best among the Monarchs and they needed a man to whose diligence and prudence so important an affair could be entrusted. The assembled clergy found no man worthier and better suited for this mission than the Most Reverend Herr Michael Harasiewicz: they elected him by acclamation and on 2 May 1803 invested him with full powers. The bishops present then in Lemberg, Ważynski of Chelm, Angellowicz of Przemysl, and Skorodynski of Lemberg, corroborated this synodal election with a letter of 12 May 1803, empowering him as the envoy of the whole Galician Ruthenian clergy, and sent him to Vienna to submit a supplication.

His tireless zeal and manifold efforts were crowned with the desired success. The Gracious Monarch received the supplications from the clergy of the Ruthenian nation with a fatherly pity. Three years later the old metropolitanate of Halicz was established and obtained a celebrated head. It is well known to the clergy and to the whole Ruthenian nation how much the late Most Reverend Herr Michael Harasiewicz contributed with his efforts and counsels to the achievement of this lofty goal. 7

When eventually the Most Serene Lord, with the diploma of 25 February 1813, had mercifully ordered the erection of the lapsed chapter at the Lemberg cathedral, this meritorious man, twice a diocesan administrator in spiritualibus and temporalibus (first after the death of the Most Reverend Herr Bishop Skorodynski and later after the passing away of His Excellency the Metropolitan Angellowicz), was nominated with an aulic decree of 3 June 1813 to serve as archpriest or provost, that is the first prelate of the chapter. The deceased remained in this post with an unshakable enthusiasm to the last moment of his eventful life. 8

By no means did this blessed prelate limit himself to perfecting only those fields of knowledge that his vocation required of him; he spent all his life studying, devoted wholly  to learning. Already a full professor of pastoral theology, he attended the lectures on law at the Lemberg University and subjected himself to the prescribed examination, in order to achieve a doctorate also in that faculty. In the years 1794, 1795, 1796, and 1797 he was the chief editor of the first periodical in Lemberg under the title Dziennik Patriotycznych Polityków (Journal of Patriotic Politicians). 9 Along with the duties resulting from his elevated position, he spent his old age researching the history of his fatherland and he wrote down a rich hoard of news and events for the history of Galicia. It was he who, upon the request of the Apostolic Nunciature, provided a comprehensive description of the Ruthenian hierarchy of the Greek Catholic rite. He enriched German magazines with valuable studies and his literary efforts always stood out for their deep learning, intellectual fertility, and mature wisdom. 10

So many manifold services in the sphere of learning and priesthood as well as the proofs shown in 1809 of an impeccable loyalty, of an unshakable constancy, and of an unlimited devotion to the legitimate throne and the Most Serene Ruler — all this could not escape the notice of the just government that knows how to appreciate and reward every merit. 11 On 13 December 1810 the Most Serene Emperor Francis I distinguished him with the honourable award of the commander cross of the Imperial Order of Leopold, to which a personal annual allowance of 800 florins was attached; and on 11 April 1811 he ennobled him together with his legitimate progeny as a baron of the Empire with the title “von Neustern. As a result of this sublime grace in the year 1817 he was immatriculated in the estates of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria and he repeatedly sat on the diets as deputy of the metropolitan chapter.

This is a concise biographical sketch of a man of unusually virtuous conduct and rare learning. Rather than a hired quill it is the genuine admiration that draws it, to which one is irresistibly forced by true services and outstanding merits. A bright and alert mind; a mature judgment, trained through dignified knowledge and a deep experience; religion allied with philosophy: these are the flowers with which he plaited himself a wreath of immortal glory among his compatriots. His glory and recollection will fly through centuries.

The sheer number of people of different social standings, including all the illustrious men, gathered at his funeral service, has clearly demonstrated this all-pervasive admiration for him. The clergy expressed its love in a Ruthenian elegy, both emotionally touching and genuine in its popular spirit. The students of the Lemberg Ruthenian Seminary had it printed by the Stauropegion Press and distributed it at his burial. 12 An echo of the mourning caused by so painful a loss reverberated also on the banks of the Danube, where the young clerics of the Ruthenian nation at the Viennese Imperial-Royal City College immortalised the memory of the celebrated Sage in yet another dirge printed by the Mekhitarist fathers. 13

Incensed altars of the flatterers fume only for the living. The serious funeral music can convey but a fully deserved praise: the praise for an honest man. This was the Most Reverend Herr Michael Harasiewicz, baron von Neustern! Peace to his ashes! Eternal glory to his name!«


1 For a summary of Mykhailo Harasevych’s life see Amvrozii Androkhovych, “Lʹvivsʹke »Studium Ruthenum«,” Zapysky Naukovoho Tovarystva imeni Shevchenka, Vol. 146 (1927), 68-75. That the maiden name of Hryhorii Iakhymovych’s mother was Harasevych is mentioned in V. Haiuk et al., Halytsʹki mytropolyty (Lviv, 1992), 37.

2 This translation is based on the German-language version published in the Wiener Zeitung. I have not been able to consult the Polish-language original. I tried to follow the text with its characteristic syntax as closely as possible, but had to take some liberties, in order to render it understandable in English. Here I want to thank Jared Warren for language assistance.

3 On this website we tend to render the names of individuals in present-day standard Ukrainian (simplified LoC romanisation). However, in this translation I leave the forms as they stand in the primary source, hence Michael Harasiewicz instead of Mykhailo Harasevych, Angellowicz instead of Anhelovych, and so on. Likewise, although we usually give place names in accordance with their current administrative status, here I give the toponyms as printed in the obituary, hence Lemberg instead of Lviv, Jachtorow instead of Iaktoriv, Zloczow instead of Zolochiv, and so on. Characteristic inconsistencies in the use of diacritics have been preserved.

4 In 1772.

5 The so-called Barbareum was an elite Greek Catholic seminary established in Vienna by the government of Maria Theresa in 1774 and closed down after ten years, when Joseph II replaced it with the Greek Catholic General Seminary in Lviv. In 1803 a college for the Greek Catholic clerics at the University of Vienna was reopened on the premises of the old Barabareum. See Amvrozii Androkhovych’s “Vidensʹke Barbareum. Istoriia korolivsʹkoi Generalʹnoi hreko-katolytsʹkoi Semynarii pry tserkvi sv. Varvary u Vidni z pershoho periodu ii isnuvannia (1775-1784),” in Iosyf Slipyi, ed., Pratsi Hreko-Katolytsʹkoi Bohoslovsʹkoi Akademii u Lʹvovi. T. I-II (Lviv, 1935), 42-113.

6 In the autumn of 1790 the government of Leopold II decreed the so-called consessus studiorum (ławica akademicka in Polish, Studien-Consess in German), an intermediary entity responsible for the management of education in Galicia. Consessus studiorum was designed as a sort of representative assembly composed of the deputies of university faculties and secondary schools. The first consessus gathered only in 1792. After ten years the government of Francis II terminated this experiment in educational self-government. See Ludwik Finkel and Stanisław Starzyński, Historya Uniwersytetu Lwowskiego (Lviv, 1894), 145-152.

7 For the most up-to-date account of the establishment of the Galician Metropolitanate see Vadym Adadurov’s introductory articles to his two collections of primary sources: Fundatsiia Halytsʹkoi Mytropolii u svitli dyplomatychnoho lystuvannia Avstrii ta Sviatoho Prestolu 1807-1808 rokiv: zbirnyk dokumentiv (Lviv, 2011) and Podil Kyivsʹkoi ta pidnesennia Halytsʹkoi uniinykh metropolii: Dokumenty ta materiialy vatykansʹkykh arkhiviv (1802-1808 roky). Uporiadkuvannia, vstup i komentari Vadyma Adadurova (Lviv, 2019).

8 The establishment of the Lviv cathedral chapter was one of the main concerns of the Greek Catholic secular clergy in the first four decades of the Austrian rule over Galicia. For this topic see Antoni Korczok, Die griechisch-katholische Kirche in Galizien (Leipzig, 1921), 56-66 and Iuliian Pelesh, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart. Bd. 2, Von der Wiederstellung der Union mit Rom bis auf die Gegenwart (1598-1879) (Vienna, 1880), 612-634.

9 Dziennik Patriotycznych Polityków was not the first periodical in Galicia but the first Polish-language daily of the Crownland. Most of its content was political news. The authors tried to balance their sympathy for the Polish-Lithuanian Enlightenment with the loyalty to the Austrian government. Mykhailo Harasevych was the responsible editor of the daily, but the extent of his actual involvement remains unclear. See Maurycy Dzieduszycki, “Przeszłowieczny dziennik lwowski,” Przewodnik Naukowy i Literacki, Year 3 (1875), 33-51 and Halina Kozłowska, “Lwowski »Dziennik Patriotycznych Polityków« (1792-1798),” Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. Prace Historyczne, No 55 (1976), 79-111.

10 See for example his “Berichtigung der Umrisse zu einer Geschichte des religiösen und hierarchischen Zustandes der Ruthener, in den Nrn. 52, 53, 54, 56, 57 und 58. Von einem griech. kathol. Domkapitularen,” serialised in 1835 in the Ergänzungsblätter zur Oesterreichischen Zeitschrift für Geschichts- und Staatskunde. This was a critical response to an article by Mykhailo Malynovsʹkyi.

11 In 1809, in the course of the war of the fifth coalition, the army of the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw occupied Galicia. The interim military government sequestrated the property of the Greek Catholic church leaders and pressured them to actively support France against Austria. Unwilling to comply, Anhelovych and Harasevych attempted to flee across the Carpathians, but they were intercepted in the village of Senechiv near the Hungarian border. Ultimately, this part of Galicia remained under Austrian rule and the whole episode worked to the advantage of the Greek Catholic leadership, as it testified to their loyalty to the Habsburg emperor. See Mykhailo Harasevych, Annales Ecclesiae Ruthenae, 919- 934 and Pelesh, Geschichte der Union. Bd. 2, 875-881.

12 The Ruthenian elegy, “eben so volksthümlich als rührend”, must be Mykola Ustyianovych’s Sleza na grobe Ego Vysokoprepodobie i Vsechestniishago Gospodina Mikhaila Barona ot Neustern Garasevicha (for this particular title, heavily saturated with old Cyrillic characters, I use the simplified LoC romanisation of Church Slavonic). Written in Galician Ruthenian vernacular, it was printed by the press of the Stauropegion Institute, created by Joseph II on the basis of the early modern Lviv Dormition Brotherhood.

13 I have not been able to identify the other piece mentioned in this paragraph. The printing house responsible for its release belongs the Mekhitarists, a congregation of Armenian Catholic monks. They have two principal houses: one on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice, the other in Vienna.


This is not an academic text sensu stricto. Its goal is to disseminate knowledge and to stimulate public interest in our field. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of either PAN or NCN.