Friday, 18 May 2012
The inspiration of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko
The shrine of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko in Warsaw is still guarded constantly by volunteers. When he was alive and preaching, young men would keep watch at the house where Blessed Jerzy lived, because of the ominous threat of the secret police. My host in Lublin, also Jerzy (=George) was one of them.
Here is the chapel where Blessed Jerzy preached the sermons that so infuriated the communists that they beat him to death, tied him up, put his body in the boot of their car and then dumped it in the river Vistula.
This monument is also outside the Church, commemorating the suffering of Poles in the various concentration camps set up by the Germans during the second world war.
And here is Piotr, my host for the Warsaw leg of my trip to Poland, in the museum dedicated to Blessed Jerzy. It is well worth a visit if you are in Warsaw. The banners are those of the Solidarity movement.
I was interested to see in the museum that Blessed Jerzy was also an outspoken pro-life campaigner who stood up for the sanctity of human life, opposed abortion, and promoted the family.
That morning, I celebrated Mass at the retreat centre where I was staying. The priest who founded the work was imprisoned for three years during the Stalin era, having fallen foul of the authorities. It is quite moving to realise that so many Poles alive today were involved in protests and opposition to the communist government. Some years ago I was amused by the reaction of the Poles to the daily news as filtered on the main TV channel broadcast of 30 minutes each evening. Everyone decided to go out for a walk at exactly the time it was broadcast. Piotr was involved in this and fell foul of the police as a result, being kept in the cells for a time.
I have put up some more photos at my flickr page. There are plenty more to follow over the next few days.