POLISH SAINTS

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Faustina Kowalska 1905 - 1938

St Faustina brought a profound teaching of divine mercy to the Church and the world, and the message that she received from Jesus became the center piece of St John Paul’s Pontificate.

"I am convinced the Shrine of Łagiewniki will become a significant point of reference and a powerful center of devotion to the Divine Mercy. May the rays of light coming down from the temple of Łagiewniki cast their spiritual reflection on the whole of Poland and on the whole world.” St John Paul II 2002

St. Maximillian Kolbe 1894-1941

Kolbe died in Auschwitz in a sacrificial act of love for a fellow prisoner. He was very interested in communication of the faith and in combatting the secularism of the day. John Paul II declared him to be the saint of our difficult century.

"The victory through faith and love was won by him in this place, which was built for the negation of faith—faith in God and faith in man—and to trample radically not only on love but on all signs of human dignity, of humanity. A place built on hatred and on contempt for man in the name of a crazed ideology. A place built on cruelty.

In this site of the terrible slaughter that brought death to four million people of different nations, Father Maximilian voluntarily offered himself for death in the starvation bunker for a brother, and so won a spiritual victory like that of Christ himself." St. John Paul II, 1979

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Raphael Kalinowski, O.C.D. 1835 - 1907)

St Raphael was a Carmelite priest who opened the Carmel Sanctuary of St Joseph in Wadowice where JP2 received instruction and whose devotion to confession impressed JP2 very deeply. Raphael died in the Carmelite monastery at Wadowice after decades of faithful service in the confessional and in the direction of souls. The pope canonized him on November 17, 1991, naming him a "Martyr of the Confessional." The Holy Father declared as well: Ordained a priest, Raphael . . . set to work in Christ's vineyard. He was as esteemed confessor and spiritual director. He guided souls in the sublime. knowledge of the love of God, Christ and Our Lady, the Church and neighbor. He dedicated many hours to this humble apostolate. He was always recollected, always ready to make a sacrifice, to fast, to practice mortification. The man "conquered by Christ." The man whose spirit, after all the difficult experiences of his former life-and even through the experiences which caused him much suffering - discovers the full meaning of the words which Christ spoke in the Upper Room: ''As the father loves me, so also I love you . . ." (Jn. 15:9,13).

Feast Day: November 19.

St. Brother Albert Chmielowski 1845-1916

St Brother Albert was a Polish freedom fighter and artist who gave up his career as an artist to serve the poor of Krakow as a Franciscan. He founded a brotherhood and a sisterhood for this service. St John Paul II credits him was a decisive role in his own vocation.

Pope John Paul II beatified Albert on June 22, 1983, in Krakow, Poland, and canonized him on November 12, 1989. Declaring that this new saint understood the necessity of"giving one's soul," the Holy Father praised his "tireless, heroic service on behalf of the marginalized and the poor."

Feast day: June 17.

Poland: A Country with a Thousand Years of History

Poland is home to:

  • Wonderful castles
  • Beautiful art
  • Great universities
  • Delicious food
  • Warm people and hospitality
  • Creative literature
  • A land of saints and shrines
  • The native land of a great Pope: Saint John Paul II

And so much more!

While there are a million things that make Poland such an amazing country, here are four categories that highlight what separates Poland from anywhere else in the world:

  • Saints and shrines
  • History
  • Culture
  • Cities

Saints and Shrines

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St. Raphael Kalinowski; St. Brother Albert

The importance of the Apostles to the Slavs – Cyril and Methodius

Cyril’s first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy. Despite opposition, their new liturgy was approved by Pope Adrian II.

Cyril died in Rome. Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop for the Czechs. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church.

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First missionaries to the East: two brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius – named “The Apostles to the Slavs.” Cyril: c. 827 – February 14, 869; Methodius: c. 815 – April 6, 884

Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical, and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict). He also dedicated one of his fourteen encyclical letters to the “Apostles to the Slaves” on faith and culture.

History

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Revolution of Conscience – Solidarity

In 1980, the workers at the shipyards in Gdańsk, led by an electrician by name Lech Wałęsa, went on strike and won the right to form an independent (non-communist) union: “Solidarity”.

Wałęsa became first non-communist president of Poland.

1918: Poland Regains its Independence

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The First World War threw Poland’s occupying powers into conflict and gave the divided nation their chance to regain independence. While 11 November 1918 is recognized as Poland’s Independence Day, the reunited country fought on for another three years before defeating Soviet armies and securing the eastern border.

Led by Gen. Józef Piłsudski. After 125 years of separation, in administration as well as in language and culture, the three sections of Poland struggled to reconnect, rebuild and reinforce their economic and military power.

By the 1930s, the future was looking bright. St John Paul II was born in 1920. Sr. Faustyna Kowalska (1905-1938) received the visions and messages of divine mercy in 1930s in Kraków and Vilnius.

Culture

Two great Polish writers who were influential on life of St John Paul II
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Adam Mickiewicz, 1798-1855; Cyprian Norwid, 1821-1883
Two great Polish musicians
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Frédéric Chopin, 1810-1849; Ignacy Jan Paderewski, 1860-1945, President of Free Poland

Cities

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Poland is known for its amazing landscapes and beautiful cities.

  • Kraków
  • Wadowice
  • Katowice
  • Lublin