A Polish-born priest who was deported to Soviet-ruled Central Asia and volunteered to stay on and minister to Catholics has been beatified.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said Fr Władysław Bukowiński , who died in 1974, prayed to overcome “fear, hunger and violence, continuing his service at risk of being arrested and sent back to the gulag”.

“His trials before Soviet courts and his time in labour camps gave him a pulpit for witness and evangelisation, from which he taught love of God and neighbour, showing how faith could bring down walls,” Cardinal Amato said during the beatification Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Cathedral, in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

He said the priest had been a “courageous missionary of Christ in distant lands of Eastern Europe” and found “safety through faith in God and divine providence” at a time of religious persecution and “physical and moral suffering.”

Born in 1904 at Berdychiv, now in Ukraine, Władysław Bukowinski studied law and theology in Kraków, Poland, where he was ordained in 1931.

He was arrested by the Soviet secret police as a “Vatican agent” in 1940.

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