Poles thank Divine Providence

Artur Stelmasiak

The National Temple of Divine Providence is an unfinished building now. But it is not the end of costly works.
The construction is 70 metres high. One can admire the powerful body of the church, towering over the Warsaw district of Wilanow. The building has reached its constructional height. Only a cross will be mounted on its top. ‘Before we do it we must complete the steel construction inside the dome’, explains Fr Krzysztof Mindewicz, Vice-President of the Divine Providence Centre.

Unfinished, open construction

The concrete-steel construction has been completed. ‘It means that we have an open construction’, add Fr Mindewicz, the parish priest of the Church of Divine Providence. The next stage of this investment will be a steel skylight on which a four-metre cross will be mounted. It will be a symbolic and solemn moment for which the whole Poland is waiting. The finial will show explicitly for Whom we are building this church’, Fr Mindewicz says. If the weather is good, the 4-metre cross will be mounted at the height of 70 metres this year.
But completing the dome, which is the roof of the whole shrine, involves many expenses. Ten million zloty is needed. The sum embraces the above-mentioned steel-glass construction of the finial and the elevation of the dome. ‘It will be covered with special stainless steel. And it is very expensive,’ the Vice-President admits. Therefore, further works depend on the means being transferred into the bank account of the Divine Providence Centre. Every gesture of generosity counts. If sufficient sums come, the dome and windows will be completed next year.

A unique museum

Roofing the complex is important for another reason. ‘Unless the unfinished construction is closed we cannot begin the realisation of the main exhibition in the Museum,’ stresses Marcin Adamczewski, Deputy Director of the John Paul II and Primate Stefan Wyszynski Museum, which will be located in the ring surrounding the church, at the height of 30 metres above the ground level. This modern multimedia cultural centre will be the first project dedicated to the memory of these two great Poles of the 20th century. ‘We received a lot from the Holy Father and the Primate of the Millennium. Their teachings and testimonies of life are our national treasure. The construction of this museum is a symbolic payment of the debt on behalf of our predecessors and future generations’, stresses Sylwia Kabala-Prawecka, the press spokesperson for the Divine Providence Centre.
The construction of the museum in Wilanow is supported by its perfect localisation. Since the whole Complex of Divine providence is located along a tourist route. In its neighbourhood there is the John III Sobieski Palace and a beautiful historical park. It is estimated that this unique exposition can draw to Wilanow millions of pilgrims and tourists from Poland and abroad. John Paul II and Cardinal Wyszynski will evangelise future generations at this place and they will give emotions to those who lived in the splendour of their pontificates. ‘We do realise that the whole Poland is waiting for this museum. Therefore, we want to open it as soon as possible’, Kabala-Prawecka emphasizes.

Pantheon of the Great Poles

The other very important stage of the construction is not visible. ‘The lower church is being completed. It has the Pantheon of the Great Poles,’ Fr Mindewicz says. Many outstanding Poles were buried in the lower church. Everyone is convinced about the importance of this place. It is enough to remind us that the following people were buried there: the eminent poet Fr Jan Twardowski, Fr Zdzislaw Peszkowski, the chaplain for the Katyn Families, Mr Krzysztof Skubiszewski, the first Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Third Polish Republic and the last President-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski. In the crypts there are also the coffins of the distinguished Warsaw priests: Jozef Joniec, Zdzisław Krol and Andrzej Kwasnik. They all were victims of the plane crash at Smolensk.
The meritorious Poles were buried next to the symbolic tomb for John Paul II, a faithful replica of his grave in the Vatican Grottos where the body of the Holy Father was buried. But the Wilanow sarcophagus is not empty since a ‘relic’ – the white scarf which was used to clean the Pope’s face at his death. During the Third Thanksgiving Day the Pantheon of the Great Poles will receive an extraordinary gift – the relics of Blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko. ‘Since the funerals of the victims of the plane crash at Smolensk and the beatification of Fr Jerzy the interest in our church has increased considerably. On some days in summer there was one bus after another’, Fr Krzysztof Mindewicz says. Many pilgrims ask when the church will be finished. The answer is both complicated and simple: when there is enough money! According to some optimistic prognosis the dedication of the half-finished church will be held towards the end of 2013.

"Niedziela" 52/2010

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