WARSAW – A CITY WHICH BECAME A CHAPEL
LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ , The Editor-in-Chief of ‘Niedziela’
August is Mary’s and Poland’s month. Every year, at this time we reminisce the miracle at Vistula on 15 August 1920 and a big national spurt, which began in the capital city on 1 August 1944. Heroes of Warsaw of that time, were often girls and boys, which is symbolically expressed by the widely-known monument of a young insurgent in a definitely too big helmet on his head. ‘How much love to Homeland there must have been in the hearts of those, who were going to barricades in the name of personal and common freedom, not considering their young and often childlike age’ – wrote John Paul II on 27 July 2004, in a letter to Lech Kaczyński, the president of the capital city of Warsaw at that time. It was time unimaginably difficult for Warsaw, doomed to death by Hitler and Stalin, left behind by allied powerful countries. Insurgents, civilians, priests were killed, when they were going to barricades with Eucharist and also nuns sacrificed their lives. On the 71st anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising archbishop Marek Jędraszewski mentioned Fr. Tadeusz Burzyński in Łódź, who had been killed on 1 August 1944 in the first hour of fights, when he was going to wounded insurgents to fulfill his priestly ministry. Whereas, in Częstochowa, during the Holy Mass, on the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, archbishop Wacław Depo quoted an example from Powiśle, where at the end of the uprising, the Germans hung Fr. Józef Stanek with his priestly stole, who had accompanied wounded insurgents, and who was wearing a cassock borrowed from a cleric Edward Materski, the later bishop of Radom. The enormous number of losses during the Warsaw Uprising lasting for 63 days was terrifying – 18 thousand insurgents and about 180 thousand civilians were killed.
However, murdered and destroyed Warsaw won because it had not lost its soul or dignity. On the days of the Warsaw Uprising, it was like a big chapel full of prayers. Nearly at every house there was a small altar or a small shrine. Warsaw was full of prayers. It was proven by Maria Okońska, a founder of the Institute of Primate Wyszyński, who with a group of girls was fighting with the help of Rosary then, realizing a program of spirit mobilization in fighting Warsaw. In the insurgents’ writings, she reported her meeting on ruins of the heroic capital city, somewhere near the square of the Redeemer, with the earlier-mentioned cleric Edward Materski. He expressed his surprise, seeing young girls participating in the uprising now, after this gehenna, that they did not break down – but were waiting for a miracle, when it was a defeat. In response he heard that the miracle had happened, because people started attending confession and the Holy Communion, agreed to take the anointing sacrament, so Warsaw was dying in the state of grace and went on its knees to the Appeal Prayer to Heaven on the feast of Our Lady, attributable on 26 August 1944.
The martyrdom sanctuary of the nation – Warsaw was called so by cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. In this issue of ‘Sunday’, on pages concerning the Warsaw Uprising, we will find a message which is important also today: ‘We wanted to live but not at any cost. We wanted to live in a decent way’. From the bloody sacrifice of ordinary unordinary Poles, after the relay race of generations, new Poland appears now. We hope that today it will be governed by courageous people, who had a good lesson of national heroes, for whom the most important values are: God, Honour and Homeland and that they can save the national heritage of multi-century history based on Christian values.