Skarga, Piotr

Image - Jan Matejko's painting: Piotr Skarga's Sermon (1862). Image - A portrait of Piotr Skarga.

Skarga, Piotr, b February 1536, d 27 September 1612 in Cracow. (Portrait: Piotr Skarga.) Polish Jesuit Counter-Reformation polemicist. He taught at the Jesuit academy in Vilnius and then served as an adviser on religious affairs to King Sigismund III Vasa. He engaged in polemics with both Protestants and Orthodox in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. An early proponent of the union of the Orthodox church with Rome, in 1577 he wrote O jedności Kościoła Bożego pod jednym pasterzem (On the Unity of God's Church under One Shepherd), one of the first examples of polemical literature involving the Ukrainian church. Dedicated to Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky, the most influential Ukrainian Orthodox leader, the tract outlined the ideological basis for a church union. In 1595–6 Skarga participated in the synods and discussions that culminated in the Church Union of Berestia; he delivered the closing speech at the synod, in October 1596, and wrote the treatise ‘Synod brzeski i jego obrona’ (The Berestia Synod and Its Defense), translated and published in Ukrainian in 1597. His other polemical works include O rządzie y jedności Kościoła Bożego pod jednym pasterzem (On the Order and Unity of God's Church under One Shepherd, 1590) and Na treny i lament Theofila Ortologa do Rusi greckiego nabożeństwa przestroga (On the Threnos and Lament of Theofilus Ortologion, a Warning to the Greek Faithful of Rus’, 1610).

Tretiak, J. Piotr Skarga w dziejach i literaturze uniji brzeskiej (Cracow 1912)
Tazbir, J. Piotr Skarga: Szermierz kontrreformacji (Warsaw 1978)

Wasyl Lencyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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