Sandovych, Maksym (b. January 31, 1886, Zdynia [Austrian Galicia], Poland; d. September 6, 1914, Gorlice [Austrian Galicia], Poland) — priest and religious activist of Russian national orientation in the Lemko Region. After completing his gymnasium studies in Jaslo and Nowy Sacz (where he lived in the *Ruska Bursa student residence) Sandovych entered the Greek Catholic Basilian Monastery at Krekhiv in eastern Galicia. Not long after, however, he became estranged from the monastery and from Greek Catholicism in general, resulting in his transfer in 1904 to the Orthodox monastery at Pochaiv in western Volhynia, which at the time was in the Russian Empire. He completed his formal education at the Russian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Zhytomyr (1904-1910) and was ordained an Orthodox priest (1911). That same year Sandovych returned to the *Lemko Region as the first Orthodox priest to serve in the area since it became Greek Catholic at the outset of the eighteenth century. He served parishes in the Lemko villages of Grab, Wyszowadka, and Dlugie, all the while under the watchful eye of the Austrian authorities, who were fearful of the spread of Russian influence in the area through the Orthodox movement.
In March 1912 Sandovych was arrested and put on trial two years later in L’viv (March 9-June 6, 1914), where together with Orthodox priest (Ihnatii Hudyma), a student (Vasyl’ Koldra), and a prominent Galician Russophile journalist (Semen Bendasiuk) he was accused of being a spy for tsarist Russia. The four were acquitted and Sandovych returned to his native village of Zdynia. Within a few months, however, he was again arrested (August 28, 1914), this time with his entire family, and imprisoned in Gorlice. World War I had already begun, and as Russian troops invaded Habsburg Galicia in early September 1914, Sandovych was taken from his prison cell by the Austrian and summarily shot.
In death, Sandovych was transformed into a symbol of Lemko suffering and of their orientation toward Orthodoxy. In the interwar years a cult of martyrdom grew up around his persona; his remains were solemnly returned to Zdynia in 1922 and on the twentieth anniversary of his death (1934) the residents of the Lemko-Rusyn village of Czarne erected a memorial cross in his honor. In 1994 Sandovych was proclaimed St. Maksym by the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, at which time his remains were transferred to the new Orthodox Church in Gorlice, the town in which he met his death. Sandovych’s son, a priest also named Maksym (1915-1991), carried on the Orthodox mission in the Lemko Region, while his grandson Mykhal Sandovych continues to propagate the memory of both his father and sainted grandfather.
Bibliography: “Maksym Sandovych,” Karpatorusskyi kalendar’ Lemko-Soiuza na hod 1964 (Yonkers, N.Y., 1964), pp. 61-75; Marian Bendza, “Ks. Maksym Sandowicz—zycie i dzialalnosc,” Wiadomosci Autokefalicznego Kosciola Prawoslawnego w Polsce, No. 3-4 (Warsaw, 1978), pp. 106-118; Mykhal Sandovych, “Muchenyk za viru vittsiv,” Zahoroda, I, 2-3 (Zyndranowa, 1994), pp. 10-15; Isaac Lambertsen, Holy New Hieromartyr Maximus Sandovich: Protomartyr of the Lemko People (Liberty, Tenn., 1999).
Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.