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