A Secular Franciscan Witness to Holiness and Leadership
Peace and all good things! As we prayerfully mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend, it is providential that we will also celebrate the holy legacy of Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński (1901-1981), Primate of Poland, declared “Blessed” this Sunday, September 12th, in Warsaw.
His witness to holiness and his strong leadership were gifts from God at a critical time in history. Having lost his own mother when he was nine years old, Blessed Stefan would grow in a lifelong devotion to the Mother of God: “I went to Jasna Góra to say my First Mass so that I could have a Mother, a Mother who is forever and does not die.”
Even as a young priest, Cardinal Wyszyński was deeply involved in spreading the Church’s social teaching on the dignity of work and the rights of workers. He would use his intellectual, pastoral, and diplomatic skills to great effect as he steadfastly fought for the free exercise of faith under a communist government while undergoing imprisonment at the hands of government officials.
In one of his first addresses to the people of Poland as pope, St. John Paul II would praise the man who was like a father to him: “In the Chair of Peter there would not be a Polish pope who today, full of the fear of God but also full of confidence, begins a new pontificate, if it had not been for your faith, which never retreated during imprisonment and suffering, your heroic hope, your unceasing trust in the Mother of the Church….”
These photos are from Wyszyński’s first place of house arrest – Our Lady of Rywald Church, where there is a Capuchin friary in Northern Poland. I visited there, and the church and friary have a small museum, and have preserved the Cardinal’s room where he made his own Stations of the Cross.
– friar Brad Milunski OFM Conv.
Born: August 3, 1901
Ordained: August 3, 1924
Appointed Bishop of Lublin: March 25, 1946
Appointed Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw (thus Primate of Poland): November 12, 1948
Created Cardinal – January 12, 1953
Imprisoned: September 25, 1953 – October 26, 1956
Died: May 28, 1981