lost church coverFather Chris Zugger’s new book, Finding a Hidden Church, is the result of eight years of interviews and research covering the history of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic church in the USSR and independent Ukraine. Here  you will find not only background history of the Church before 1945, but the heroic witness of Blessed Theodore Romzha (killed in 1947), Bishop Petro Oros (executed 1953), Bishop Alexander Khira who died in Kazakhstan, and scores of priests, their wives, their children, and other people who fought to keep their beloved Church alive in a hostile society.

Read about the anti-religious attitudes of the Soviet Union, the imposition of harsh legislation, and the rupture of a 1,000 year old culture and Church. Also discover the determination of people to keep their faith in Jesus Christ and Catholicism alive by worshipping secretly at night, in forests, in barns, and how the Church survived with not one legal building and constant harrassment by the feared secret police. Discover the new ways Bishop Khira and underground priests came up with training new priests, establishing forbidden parishes, and nurturing the faith in an incredibly hostile atmosphere.

Included are short histories of what happened to the other Byzantine Catholic Churches in the Soviet bloc, five maps, over 70 photographs including some from the dreaded Gulag camps. Be inspired to renew your own faith in God and your own dedication to His Church and to realize that the impossible can be achieved, but only when relying on God’s grace.

The book sells for $30, and is available now through Eastern Christian Publications or the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Bookstore. Autographed copies are available. Place your order now!

forgotten_coverThe Forgotten: Catholics in the Soviet Empire from Lenin through Stalin. (Syracuse University, 2001). This epic work traces the history of Soviet Catholicism from its rich life in 1914 through its tentative fate in the first sixty years of the USSR. Rev. Christopher Lawrence Zugger tells of the faithful men and women shackled by dictatorship, doomed to deportation, and abandoned by their own church in the west.

Soviet Russia was an empire born of atheism. Religions, per se, were viewed as a threat to the State’s notion of individualism. By 1932 Dictator Josef Stalin firmly declared that religion would be extinct in the USSR within five years. In this compelling volume, Rev. Zugger details the Soviet campaign against Catholicism among many ethnic groups, several Catholic rites, and devout worshippers whose devotion would not be shaken.

The author, himself a Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic priest, weaves numerous dramas of laymen and clergy alike into one gripping epic of persecution and consequence. He shows how they kept faith alive in prison camps, in remote villages, in monastery prisons, and in the secrecy of their homes, where the light of faith continued to burn brightly while churches crumbled or became dance halls and office buildings. This is the first book in English to recount in detail the fate of Catholic Russia and the Church in the various lands conquered by Soviet rule and its resistance to annihilation. It is at once a memorial to those who perished, a tribute to those who survived, and a testament to the enduring power of faith.

Praise for “The Forgotten”

Father Zugger has done an outstanding job – Fr Mitch Pacwa of EWTN

This impressive book is … at once a memorial to those who perished and a tribute to those who survived.  One of the most impressive features of this book is its geographical range.  –Derek H. Davis, Baylor University

Zugger has done a very good job. His interest and style are more pastoral than historical … I have already found myself using his work to find out some arcane fact. – Dennis J. Dunn, Southwest Texas University

An important achievement of this book is that it provides an alternative perspective on Soviet history.  “The Forgotten” is not only a comprehensive history of Catholic life under Soviet rule but a veritable encyclopedia  of the saintly men and women. … Zugger is to be congratulated on this important to Catholic historical studies which is compulsive reading from start to finish. – Fr John Kenrick OP, former Dominican Vicar General of Russia and Ukraine

Though hundreds and hundreds of articles have been written on the subject, few indeed have been detailed examinations as presented here. … people kept the faith alive in prison camps, in villages and in the secret of their own homes. Of great use to readers … are several appendices and listings. This is indeed, a pioneering work and Father Zugger is to be congratulated. Highly recommended for college and university libraries, seminary and parish libraries, and public libraries …. – Catholic Library World

Zugger details the Soviet campaign against Catholicism among ethnic groups, several Catholic rites, and devout worshippers. The title refers to the lack of help from Catholic and the Church in the west. – Reference and Research Book News

Exceptional!! – Today’s Books

This book is a labor of love. Zugger interviewed many Ukrainian and Armenian catholics and used unpublished memoirs … His personal collection of photographs, some of them very rare, enlivens the text. … this is very much a confessional history, rather than addressing broader historiographical questions. – Russian Review


“Catholics in the Gulag” is an essay presented in Religion, Human Rights and the Gulag, published by Boston College, John Michalczyk and Naomi Blumberg, Eds. (Etoile International Productions, 2006), ISBN 978-1-4243-4376-8.

It is a presentation I gave at Boston College, and is the foundation for my next book which I hope to finish at the end of 2012. The book is out of print, and very hard to find: incentive to get the larger one done!



  1. […] and a detailed account can be found in the recently published book Finding a Hidden Church by Fr. Chris Zugger. This entry was posted in Church Unity, Eastern Catholic Church, Fathers of the Church, Jesus, […]

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