THIRD TIME LUCKY
This is an old Polish saying which is perfectly inscribed in the history of building the Church of Divine Providence. It was not successful in the First Polish Republic, or in the Second Polish Republic, only after 225 years the idea of the national votive has been realized successfully
Three attempts show us one more historical-national dependence. Every time, when Poland did not keep its promise made to God, it brought a bad ending to us. – That idea was like a bad luck for our Homeland, which once was rising to independence, once it was losing it – prof. Wiesław Wysocki says, a historian from the Cardinal of Stefan Wyszyński.
It was also said by St. John Paul II during the Holy Mass on the square of Piłsudski in 1999. ‘Let this church become a place of particular thanksgiving for freedom of Homeland. I pray so that no painful experience disturbed this thanksgiving, for which we have waited for 200 years’ – emphasized the Pope.
Everything proves that the prayer of the Holy Father was listened to, because on the Day of Independence – 11 November 2016 there will be the first Holy Mass celebrated in the Church of Divine Providence. After 225 years representatives of Poland and the supreme state authorities will be celebrating both regaining independence in 1918 and will close a kind of a phase in history, which is building the Church of Divine Providence. – There is not such a church we built in Wilanów in Warsaw, or anywhere in Europe. We are pioneers because there is not any country which could appreciate its catholic religion in a similar way emphasizes prof. Wysocki.
Building the Church of Divine Providence reaches back the times of reigns of the king Sanisław August Poniatowski. Two days after enacting the Constitution of 3 May by the Four-year-old Seym, that is, on 5 May 1791, MPs and the king undertook a thanksgiving commitment about erecting the church ‘ex voto of all states… sacrificed to the supreme Providence. It was to be the expression of thanksgiving to ‘The Supreme Ruler of nations fates’ for enacting the constitution.
The first spade was stuck into the ground a year later, on the anniversary of enacting the constitution. Building the church was inaugurated solemnly by the king Stanisław August and the last primate of the First Polish Republic archbishop Michał Poniatowski. If the plan had been realized then, opposite the Office of the Chairman of Ministers’ Council there would be the church of Divine Providence today.
Unfortunately, history went in a different direction as a few days later the tsarist armies invaded Warsaw which made it impossible to build the church and 3 years later our country was not on the map of Europe.
After regaining independence, on 17 March 1921, the Legislative Seym of regained Polish Republic re-enacted an act about building the church. The parliament decided that costs of this realization would be covered by the state. Budget was also to be financed by the perpetual grants from which the Holy Masses were to be paid, which were to be celebrated in the intention of Homeland and Poles’ souls killed in its defence.
Economic problems, and, mainly, raging inflation, however, caused a situation that beginning the investment was delayed in time. Only the Remembrance Committee of Marshal Piłsudski, established after his death, led by Ignacy Mościcki, decided to realize this work. On the Fields of Mokotow there was a plan of establishing this remembrance place, among the others, with the monument of the Marshal and the Triumph Arch of the Warsaw Battle. The central place of this complex of the national remembrance was to be the Church of Divine Providence.
The Committee awarded a project in a contest, which planned to build an enormous church in a constructive style, with a tower reminding New York sky scrapers. In summer 1939 ground works were begun. However, the building plan was disturbed by the outbreak of the second world war. The Nazis occupation, and later communist dictatorship made it impossible to realize those plans.
The Third Polish Republic is another chapter in the history of Poland. This time the promise of ancestors was reminded by the primate of Poland cardinal Józef Glemp who added gaining independence in 1989 to the thanksgiving intentions. The Cardinal gained support from the Warsaw Council, the Constitutional Commission of the Senate and in 1997, building work of the church was supported by the Seym of the Polish Republic.
Similarly as in the times of the Second Polish Republic and now there were problems with choosing a contest work and financing the investment. As long as in the previous attempts the burden of building laid on the state budget, construction work gained only written support of the parliament. As a result, realization of promises made by the state authorities was laid completely onto the Church, that is, on believers. Regarding the characteristics of the area and the building boom, construction work of the church turned out to be much more expensive than it had been assumed in the beginning. And the primate Glemp was often criticized for this idea by leftist-liberal media that he was building a gigantic church on the very field.
Construction work went very slowly and was interrupted many times, because the whole burden of the investment was practically lain on the archdiocese of Warsaw. There was time that construction work was criticized. A new opening ceremony was presided over by the successor of the primate cardinal Kazimierz Nycz. A few months after his ingress in Warsaw, he appointed the Centre of Divine Providence and pointed clearly that the whole complex was not only a church. Also construction work of the cultural part, which is the Museum of John Paul II and Primate Wyszyński, could be financed from the budget of the state. Moreover, the Centre of Divine Providence began pursuing a wide informative-promoting campaign and building the base of ordinary donors. – As long as the primate of Poland could undertake a commitment given to God by our ancestors, cardinal Kazimierz Nycz could realize them effectively later – says Fr. Tadeusz Aleksandrowicz, a parish priest of the church of Divine Providence.
In 2008 the first Thanksgiving Day was organized as well as the first nationwide issue for the sake of construction work of the Church of Divine Providence. Moreover, there were talks on financing the museum part of the complex. – After eight years we are closing an important phase because the first Holy Mass will be celebrated in the church – says Sylwester Bizacki, a director of the office of the Centre of Divine Providence. – At this time we managed to build a permanent relation with 80 thousand donors who support construction work. It means that our work is needed because Poles want to realize the promise.
For the 100th anniversary of independence
Opening ceremony of the Church of Divine Providence in 2016 is very symbolic. It will be the first time in history when we will have been celebrating the anniversary of gaining independence in the church which is a national votive binding tradition of the First and the Second Polish Republic, with strong reference to the contemporary times. A wonderful dimension of the national sanctuary is the fact that in one place it will be possible to worship relics of the saints and the beatified in the whole history of Poland.
If in 1791 the decision about building the Church of Divine Providence was made by the king, MPs of that time and the Church, we would like to refer to that unity on the day of the opening ceremony. Choosing guests, Priest Cardinal would like to emphasize that the Church of Divine Providence is our common work -Piotr Gaweł, the chairperson of the Centre of Divine Providence tells ‘Niedziela’.
Since the times of enlightenment in Europe the authorities have been building remembrance places with exclusion of the spiritual dimension, and even counterbalance for religion was created. – In Poland was and is still different. We have such history that it is impossible to pass over it without mentioning the Church, as it would be hypocritical. All important dates in the history of our nation have both the national and religious dimensions. The idea of building the Church of Divine Providence reflects everything what is called Poland in both the state, community and spiritual dimension – says prof. Wiesław Wysocki.
There are often enforced attempts to create the separation of the state from the Church and persuading the public opinion to believe that these are opposing realities.
However, it is not so, because these are two separate existences, but they have the same purpose, that is, the welfare of citizens. The country takes care of the earthly good, and the Church – about the eternal one. So, there is no conflict of interests – emphasizes prof. Wysocki.
The Independence Day in the Church of Divine Providence is a beautiful complement to the jubilee of the 1050th anniversary of Poland baptism, which is also the beginning of Polish nationality. Whereas in two years’ time in this place it will be possible to celebrate the 100th anniversary of gaining independence. – For this occasion we are planning to open a modern Museum of John Paul II and Primate Wyszyński, which is above the sacral part – says Piotr Gaweł. – In a modern and narrative way life of two great Poles will be presented at the background of changing history of Poland, Europe and the world. I do not doubt that it will be a fascinating museum because on the map of historical education there is no other institution like this one which would tell us about the last hundred years in such an unusual way.