Museum of Polish Prayer Book

Katarzyna Cinzio

The village of Parzmo, not far away from Belchatow, in the Archdiocese of Lodz. A quiet place, with a small tidy church in the middle. The body of the Servant of God Wanda Malczewska was laid in the crypt of the church. There is an old parish building, a small presbytery, nearby. It was built in the style of an old Polish manor house, with a porch and columns. Wanda Malczewska spent her last years of life here. All the documents concerning her cause for beautification are ready, only the canonical confirmation of a miracle is missing. This is the subject of prayer of more and more people who are coming to this small village. Before a miracle occurs the Museum of Polish Prayer Book has been opened in the renovated presbytery. Why is it a museum of prayer book? After all, Wanda Malczewska was remembered as a good, generous woman, a visionary, even a prophetess, a person with a gift of healing. Thanks to her prayers her cousin Jacek Siemienski, who had been seriously wounded in the January Uprising, was to be miraculously cured. Why? Because the characteristic sign of Malczewska was a prayer book. She always carried it with her. She taught impoverished children of the 19th century old Polish village. She taught them to read and write from prayer books. Her prayer book was the source of heroic strength of her hard work for others, which she did throughout her life. Archbishop Wladyslaw Ziolek of Lodz (the village of Parzmo is located in this diocese) wrote, ‘The body of Wanda Malczewska, who had died in the opinion of sanctity in 1895, was laid in the crypt of the parish church in Parzmo. Admiring her love for God, the Church and Homeland as well as her Samaritan attitude towards the needy and her courageous witness of faith her fellow parishioners called her ‘pious Wanda’ during her lifetime. Throughout centuries there were many attempts to ask God for the grace of beautification of Wanda Malczewska. The obstacle to fulfil those expectations was the period of the Nazi occupation and the following years. The cause for beatification that lasted for many years has almost been completed. What is required is a canonically confirmed miracle through the intercession of the Servant of God Wanda Malczewska. We are waiting for this event with deep hope and we are praying in this intention. Since the heroicity of the virtues of Wanda Malczewska has been confirmed she deserves the title ‘the Venerable Servant of God’… The prayer book was an important tool in her educational and catechetical service in the life of the Venerable Servant of God Wanda Malczewska. She used it to teach the truths of faith, prayers and the skill of reading. She gave prayer books to the poorest and she even re-wrote them personally. I trust that our present pilgrimage to the grave of Wanda Malczewska in Parzmo will become a great and effective imploring God’s grace for her beautification. I wholeheartedly give my blessing to all participants of the pilgrimage and their intentions.’ Bishop Adam Lepa called Wanda Malczewska an extraordinary woman who has fascinated and charmed people up till now. She called her the most famous and most effective evangelizator of the 19th century. She was an excellent catechist, an easygoing person; she went to poor children in the village; she bought books for them and taught them to read. She was a woman of prayer – deep, mystical prayer. She used her prayer book – it is a symbol of her activities. The initiator of the Museum of the Prayer Book is Dr. Wieslawa Piontek from Zofiowka near Lutomiersko. She became fascinated with the personality of Wanda Malczewska. The idea was put into practice by the parish priest in Parzmo Fr Leszek Druch. The fact of the opening of the Museum on the anniversary of the birth of Wanda Malczewska was a good sign. Currently, there are about one thousand prayer books from all over the world there and new prayer books are being sent. In the old presbytery one can see very old historical prayer books as well as handwritten books from various camps and the labour camps in Siberia. They were written in Polish, old Swedish, Dutch; they have elegant leather covers and there are also pocket editions. In some way all of them constitute the history of extraordinary Polish fates. ‘Some should have traces of blood, tears, sweat…’, says Janina Szymkowska who came to the opening of the Museum from Piotrkow Trybunalski. She read about Wanda Malczewska in some book a few years ago. She thought, ‘My God, you meet very few such people today…’ Once a year a pilgrimage headed by Archbishop Wladyslaw Ziolek and auxiliary bishops Adam Lepa and Ireneusz Pekalski come to Parzmo. This year Archbishop Ziolek has opened and dedicated the Museum of Polish Prayer Book.

"Niedziela" 27/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: