Baptism of Poland
The Baptism of Poland (Polish: chrzest Polski) was the event that signified the beginning of the Christianization of Poland, commencing with the personal baptism of Mieszko I, the first ruler of the Polish state, and his court. The ceremony took place on the Holy Saturday of 14 April 966, although the exact location is still disputed by historians, with the cities of Poznań and Gniezno being the most likely sites.
The related term Christianization of Poland (Polish: chrystianizacja Polski) is also used on occasion to denote this event, although it has also a wider meaning, referring to the subsequent spread of Christianity throughout Poland.
While the spread of Christianity throughout Poland took centuries to finish, the process was ultimately successful, as within several decades Poland joined the rank of established European states recognized by the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. Some historians associate this event with the creation of the Polish state.
Before the adaption of Christianity, Poland was a pagan country. Svetovid was among the most widespread pagan gods worshiped in Poland. Christianity arrived on the Polish lands around the late 8th century, most likely around the time when the Vistulan tribe encountered the Christian rite in dealings with their neighbors, the Great Moravia (Bohemian) state. Although some of the Great Moravian Christian rites and faith might have spread to the Polish lands soon afterward, there is little conclusive evidence for that.
Nonetheless the Moravian cultural influence played a significant role in the spread of Christianity onto the Polish lands and the subsequent adoption of that religion. In fact, the Christianization of Poland through the Czech–Polish alliance represented a conscious choice on the part of Polish rulers to ally themselves with the Czech state rather than the German one. In a similar fashion, some of the later political struggles involved the Polish Church refusing to subordinate itself to the German hierarchy and instead being directly subordinate to the Vatican.
The baptism of Poland refers to the ceremony when the first ruler of the Polish state, Mieszko I, his wife, Dobrawa of Bohemia, and his court, converted to the Christian religion. Dobrawa played a significant role in promoting Christianity in Poland, and according to some traditions, she was a zealous Christian who converted Mieszko herself.
The exact place of Mieszko's baptism is disputed, historians most commonly having alternately argued between Gniezno or Poznań. Some historians have suggested less likely alternative locations, such as Ostrów Lednicki, or even in German Regensburg. The date was the Holy Saturday of 14 April.
The ceremony was preceded by a week of oral catechism, and a fast of several days. The actual ceremony involved pouring water over the segregated groups of men and women, although it is possible that their heads were immersed instead, and anointed with the chrism.
Aftermath and significance 
The next significant step in Poland's adoption of Christianity was the establishment of various ecclesiastical organs in the country during the 10th and 11th centuries. The baptismal mission began in the two major cities of Gniezno and Poznań, and then spread throughout the country. This included the building of churches and the appointment of clergy. The first bishop of Poland, Jordan, was appointed by Pope John XIII in 968.
Mieszko's action proved highly influential, although at first the Christian religion was "unpopular and alien" and had to be enforced by the state, and ran into some popular opposition, including an uprising in the 1030s (particularly intense in the years of 1035–1037). Nonetheless by that time Poland had won recognition as a proper European state, both from the papacy and from the Holy Roman Empire. Out of various Polish provinces, Christianity's spread was slowest in Pomerania, where it became established only around the 12th century. Native clergy took three or four generations to emerge, and supported by the monasteries and friars that grew increasingly common in the 12th century. By the 13th century, however, Roman Catholicism had become the dominant religion throughout Poland. Overall, according to at least some scholars, the baptism of Poland marks the beginning of Polish statehood.
In adopting Christianity as the state religion, Mieszko sought to achieve several personal goals. He saw Poland's baptism as a way of strengthening his hold on power, as well as using it as a unifying force for the Polish people. It replaced several smaller cults with a single, central one, clearly associated with the royal court. It would also improve the position and respectability of the Polish state on the international, European scene. The Church also helped to strengthen the monarch's authority, and brought to Poland much experience with regard to state administration. Thus the Church organization supported the state, and in return, bishops received important government titles (in the later era, they were members of the Senate of Poland).
On July 30, 1966 the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing issued 128,475,000 Commemorative Stamps Honoring the millennium anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by the Polish nation. The 5 cent stamp is red colored and printed by rotary press. The Scott Catalog number of this issue is U.S. #1313.
Millennial celebrations People's Republic of Poland 
The preparations for the begun with the Great Novena of 1957, which marked a nine years period of fast and prayer. In 1966, the People's Republic of Poland witnessed large festivities on the 1,000-year anniversary of those events, with the Church celebrating the 1,000 years of Christianity in Poland, while the communist government celebrated the secular 1,000 years of the Polish State. The communist state's desire to separate religion from the state made the festivities a time of culture clash between the state and the Church. Whereas the Church was focusing on the religious, ecclesiastical aspects of the baptism, with slogans (in Latin) like "Sacrum Poloniae Millenium" (Poland's Sacred Millennium) the Party was framing the celebrations as a secular, political anniversary of the creation of the Polish state, with slogans (in Polish) like "Tysiąclecie Państwa Polskiego" (A Thousand Years of the Polish State). As Norman Davies noted, both the Church and the Party had "rival, and mutually exclusive, interpretations of [Poland's baptism] significance."
See also 
- Halina Lerski (30 January 1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. ABC-CLIO. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-313-03456-5. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Halina Lerski (30 January 1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. ABC-CLIO. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0-313-03456-5. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Chrystianizacja Polski południowej. Materiały sesji naukowej odbytej 29 czerwca 1993 roku, Kraków, 1994
- Jerzy Lukowski; W. H. Zawadzki (6 July 2006). A Concise History of Poland. Cambridge University Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-521-85332-3. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Juliusz Bardach, Boguslaw Lesnodorski, and Michal Pietrzak, Historia panstwa i prawa polskiego (Warsaw: Paristwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1987, pp.53–54
- Jerzy Kłoczowski (14 September 2000). A History of Polish Christianity. Cambridge University Press. pp. 10–13. ISBN 978-0-521-36429-4. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Norman Davies (30 March 2005). God's Playground: The origins to 1795. Columbia University Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-231-12817-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Norman Davies (30 March 2005). God's Playground: The origins to 1795. Columbia University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-231-12817-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Leszek Moczulski (2007). Narodziny Międzymorza: ukształtowanie ojczyzn, powstanie państw oraz układy geopolityczne wschodniej części Europy w późnej starożytności i we wczesnym średniowieczu. Bellona. p. 638. GGKEY:KQL3CPL831C. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Professor Anita J. Prazmowska (13 July 2011). A History of Poland. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-230-34537-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Geneviève Zubrzycki (15 September 2006). The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism And Religion in Post-communist Poland. University of Chicago Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-226-99304-1. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- U.S. #1313 Polish Millennium MNH
- Norman Davies (30 March 2005). God's Playground: The origins to 1795. Columbia University Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-0-231-12817-9. Retrieved 5 April 2012.