Cieplak, Jan Felix

(1851-1926) Archbishop of Vilna, born Dabrowa, Poland; died Passaic, New Jersey. A teacher of theology in the Academy of Petrograd, he was made bishop, 1908; archbishop, 1919. As successor of Archbishop Ropp of Petrograd, who had been exiled by the Bolsheviks, Cieplak was summoned several times by the Soviet Department of Religious Affairs for refusing to carry out the following decrees:

1. To sign an agreement acknowledging government ownership of Church property and prohibiting religious instruction.

2. To order the clergy not to resist the confiscation of Church treasures.

In 1923, Cieplak and Monsignor Budkiewicz were seized and taken to Moscow for trial, with 13 other priests, charged with inciting Catholics to a counter-revolution. After a farcical trial, Budkiewicz and he were condemned to death but, in deference to universal public protests, the sentence of the archbishop was commuted to imprisonment. After spending 13 months in the Bolshevik prisons, Cieplak retired to Rome. In 1926 while visiting the Polish centers of the United States he died.

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