Vasyl Vsevolod (Basil) Velyckovskyj, bishop of the “underground” Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, was born on June 1’ 1903 at Stanislaviv (lvano-Frakivsk), into an old priestly family. As a fifteen year-old he took part in the War of Independence (1918-1919), as a sergeant in the clerical section of a unit of the Ukrainian army. He entered the seminary at Lviv in 1920, and after ordination to the diaconate he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Ordained priest in 1925 he spent more than twenty years working as a missioner among the ordinary folk of both the towns and villages in and beyond the Western Ukraine.
Along with the Greek-Catholic hierarchy he was arrested on April 11, 1945. His trial, staged at Kiev, lasted almost two years, during which he worked in the stores of the hospital wing of the prison. He was sentenced to execution by firing squad, but after three months the sentence was commuted to ten years imprisonment.
After transfer to the lager at Vorkuta, he was forced to work in the coal mines in temperatures down to minus 50 degrees.
Freed in 1955 he returned to Lviv, where he resumed his pastoral work in secret. Named bishop in 1959, he was not consecrated until 1963, by Metropolitan Joseph Slipyj, at Mosca, in a hotel room. He was again arrested on January 2, 1969 because he continued to be a Catholic “making anti-soviet propaganda and being an agitator among the people, evading physical and intellectual work for the progress of the soviet state, and never behaving as an exemplary citizen of the USSR. Also, for writing and publishing a book on the Mother of God of Perpetual Succour, in which, without any ambiguity, he taught that no one devoid of faith could be a genuine citizen and faithful to the state. Moreover, he listened to Vatican radio broadcasts.” He was condemned to three more years in prison, but was released after a few months since he had severe heart problems. On January 27, 1972 the soviet authorities would not allow him to return to Lviv, but invited him to go to Yugoslavia to stay with his sister, and “recuperate.” After a brief stay in Zagreb he made his way to Rome, where he was received by Pope Paul VI, (April 8, 1972). On June 15th 1972 he travelled to Winnipeg in Canada, where he died on June 30 1973, as a result of a slow-acting poison given him prior to his departure for Yugoslavia.