|Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko|
14 September 1947|
Okopy near Suchowola, Poland
|Died||19 October 1984
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||6 June 2010, Warsaw, Poland by Cardinal Angelo Amato|
Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjɛʐɨ popʲɛˈwuʂkɔ]; 14 September 1947 – 19 October 1984) was a Polish Roman Catholic priest who became associated with the opposition Solidarity trade union in communist Poland. He was murdered in 1984 by three agents of the internal intelligence agency, the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, (English: Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) who were shortly thereafter tried and convicted of the murder.
Early life and priesthood
Born in Okopy near Suchowola, Jerzy Popiełuszko was a charismatic priest who was first sent to strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the Communist regime in Poland.
He was a staunch anti-communist, and in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law, the Catholic Church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.
Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.
A car accident was set up to kill Jerzy Popiełuszko on 13 October 1984 but he escaped it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him and it was carried out on 19 October 1984. The priest was beaten to death by three Security Police officers, Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pekala and Waldemar Chmielewski, and his body was then dumped into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where it was recovered on 30 October 1984.
News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors, Colonel Adam Petruszka, were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people, including Lech Wałęsa, attended his funeral on 3 November 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. Popiełuszko's murderers - Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pękala, Waldemar Chmielewski and Colonel Adam Pietruszka (responsible for giving them the order to kill) - were jailed but released later as part of an amnesty.
Ronald Harwood's documentary drama The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest was premiered at the Almeida Theatre in 1985 October — an early example of a theatre transcript of a trial, in this case the trial of Popiełuszko's murderers.
A movie, Popiełuszko, documenting the life and death of Popiełuszko was released in Poland in February 2009.
Another film, Jerzy Popieluszko: Messenger of the Truth, was produced by Paul G. Hensler in 2013.
A section of McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a historically Polish community, is named for Fr. Popiełuszko and features a stone bust bearing his likeness.
Popieluszko Court in Hartford, Connecticut USA was named in his memory. The SS. Cyril & Methodius Church is located on this street, serving as an important cornerstone for the area's Roman Catholic Polish-American immigrant community. The street intersects with Charter Oak Boulevard, with the main entrance to the parking lot of the Polish National Home of Hartford across the street at the end of Popieluszko Court.
Beatification and canonisation
The Roman Catholic Church started the process of his beatification with the declaration of "nihil obstat" (nothing against) on 15 March 1996 and held a diocesan process from 8 February 1997 to 8 February 2001. This conferred upon him the title of Servant of God. In 2008 the Positio was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and on 19 December 2009 it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the decree for the beatification of Father Popiełuszko.
He was beatified by Cardinal Angelo Amato on 6 June 2010 in Warsaw's Piłsudski Square. His mother, Marianna Popiełuszko was present at the event. More than 100,000 people attended the open-air mass in the Polish capital Warsaw to beatify Father Jerzy Popieluszko. Poland Post issued a set of stamps on that same day to mark the beatification.
In October 2013, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz - the Archbishop of Warsaw, the diocese where Popiełuszko was killed - announced that a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Polish priest has been identified and confirmed in France. Thus Cardinal Nycz predicts that Popiełuszko will likely be canonized soon.
- To Kill a Priest (1988 Fr.), a movie directed by Agnieszka Holland and starring Christopher Lambert as a character based on Jerzy Popiełuszko
- "Jerzy Popiełuszko" in Encyklopedia PWN (in Polish)
- Polish priest Father Popieluszko 'martyr' beatified, BBC News (6 June 2010)
- BBC: On This Day
- Order Orła Białego dla Księdza Jerzego Popiełuszki, Prezydent.pl, 19.10.2009 (in Polish)
- Boosey and Hawkes program note for Andrzej Panufnik's Bassoon Concerto.
- "Father Popieluszko in Rome pantheon of modern martyrs". thenews.pl. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Pope decrees beatification of Poland's 'Solidarity chaplain'
- Gazeta Współczesna (in Polish)
- World Stamp News
- "Popiełuszko wkrótce świętym?". Rzeczpospolita. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- To Kill a Priest: review, Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 1990
- Moody, John; Boyes, Roger (1987). The Priest and the Policeman: The Courageous Life and Cruel Murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko. New York: Summit Books. ISBN 0-671-61896-2.
- To Kill A Priest: The Murder of Father Popieluszko and the Fall of Communism by Kevin Ruane (London: Gibson Books, 2004), ISBN 978-1-903933-54-1 / 1-903933-54-4.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- Interview with Popieluszko for BBC, on September 1984
- Museum of Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko
- Popiełuszko. Wolność jest w nas (AKA: Popiełuszko. Freedom is inside us), film, 2009
- Jerzy Popieluszko (Character) at the Internet Movie Database