Our righteous father Maxim Sandovich and hieromartyr was a Carpatho-Russian who in practicing his Orthodox faith as priest under the rule of the Unia, as enforced by the Roman Catholic Austrian imperial government, was arrested and then executed for his faith in August 1914.
Maxim Sandovich was born into the family of a prosperous farmer, and his wife, Timothy and Christina Sandovich, in the village of Zdyna, Galicia. His father served as the choir director in the local parish. After finishing four year of study at the local high school in Novy Sanch, Maxim crossed the border into Russia to become a novice at the Pochaev Lavra in Volynia. Subsequently, he attended the Orthodox seminary in Zhitomir. Completing his studies he married a young Orthodox woman, Pelagia, and was ordained deacon and then to the priesthood before returning to his home.
It was not very long before the Austrian militia discovered his Orthodox pastoral and missionary service as he was denounced by a Ukrainian teacher by the name of Leos, in 1912. Immediately the Austrian gendarmes put Fr. Maxim in chains and sent him to prison in Lvov. There he was held for two years without a trial or inquest while being abused horribly and living in equally bad conditions. Then as World War I was to begin he was released for lack of evidence.
Fr. Maxim’s stay at his home in the village Hrab was to prove to be short as the first shots of the war heralded a wave of new repressions of the Orthodox Carpatho-Russians. The militia, on August 4, 1914, arrested the whole family of the young priest and dragged them off in shackles to the prison in Gorlice. Fr. Maxim, his father, mother, brother, and wife were forced to travel on foot to the prison while being prodded by the bayonets of the gendarmes. In prison they were placed in separate cells and denied the opportunity to see each other.
Then, on Sunday August 6, while at prayer at the dawn of the new day, Fr. Maxim could hear the noise of a crowd beyond the walls of their prison. The noise was accompanied finally by a load thud as a moutachioed German captain, named Dietrich, from Linz entered the prison grounds, accompanied by two soldiers and four gendarmes. The captain was known to be a cruel and sadistic person. This group was followed by the prison wardens, some civil servants, officers, and a group of curious women led by Pan Mitshka, the leader of the Gorlice District. As silence fell, the order was given to the warden to bring Fr. Maxim from his cell.
With that order two soldiers led the young, twenty-eight year old Orthodox priest from the prison. Fr. Maxim suddenly realized where they were taking him and humbly and with dignity asked, “Be so good as not to hold me. I will go peacefully wherever you wish.