Priest Stanislovas Išora in the Uprising of 1863: Corrections of Historiographic Construct

  • Aldona Prašmantaitė Lithuanian Institute of History
Keywords: Priest Stanislovas Išora, uprising of 1863, Catholic Church in Lithuania, executions, Vilnius Lukiškių square


During the uprising of 1863 under the decision of the local authorities of the Russian Empire the current Vilnius Lukiškių square became a place where extrajudicial killings of rebels and persons accused of participating in the rebellion were carried out. The priest of Vilnius Diocese Stanislovas Išora (Stanisław Iszora) became the first victim. He was shot on 3 June / 22 May 1863 by the decision of the Military Court, approved by the Governor General of Vilnius Mikhail Muravyov. Based on historiography and primary sources, the article reconstructs the history of S. Išora’s life. The article analyzes the episodes of S. Išora’s biography which have no unanimous opinion in the historiography (place of birth, studies, aspects of the sentencing process).

During the uprising of 1863 under the decision of the local officials of the Russian Empire the current Vilnius Lukiškių square became the place where the death penalty was carried out against the people who took part in the uprising. Eventually not all of them were active participants in the uprising. According to historiographical data, from June 1863 to March 1864 in this square death penalty was executed for 21 active participants or persons accused of inciting other to participate in the uprising. The priest of the diocese of Vilnius, Stanislovas Išora (Stanisław Iszora), was one of the first priests of Vilnius diocese arrested in 1863 when the uprising began, and the first one punished by death in armed struggle in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.Based on historiography and primary sources the article reconstructs the story of S. Išora’s life. It has been established that prevailing historiographic versions (place of birth, studies, aspects of arrest and trial) in the primary sources are often inadequate of fixed information.

According to the data of ecclesiastical metrics, it was clarified that S. Išora was born in 1838 in Vilnius, in the family of a judge of Vilnius nobility court. It is not possible to justify the historiographical version with primary sources that S. Išora had a brother. It is obvious that S. Išora could not have been a graduate of the Roman Catholic Spiritual Academy, because of the young age. It has been established that the prevailing statement to date that the predecessor of Vilnius general governor Mikhail Muravyov, who confirmed the Military Court judgment on death penalty, Vladimir Nazimov, has sentenced vicar to exile is misleading. It was established that V. Nazimov transferred his duties and the right to approve a court judgment to the newly appointed general governor. S. Išora participated in the hearing, so the death sentence should not have been a secret, as is often stated. The court sentence of death penalty to S. Išora was approved on May 16, 1863 by the General Governor M. Muravyov, a couple of days after his arrival in Vilnius. M. Muravyov’s decision to start carrying out executions in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the uprising of 1863 by the death penalty for a Catholic priest has to be assessed as a consequence of the policy pursued by the the Russian Empire over the Catholic Church. Zaludko vicar became the victim of a posed image of a Catholic priest as an active participant in the uprising, which, in turn, has served, among other things, justifying repressions against the Roman Catholic Church, even before the onset of armed struggle.

History of Church