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Beatification of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński (1901–1981), Primate of Poland, is one of the most prominent figures in the history of 20th-century Poland. Through his word and deed, he has left a lasting and indelible mark on the history of the Polish Church. He has become a genuine God’s witness and an epitome of living love for his homeland.
When Wyszyński began his primatial service in the enslaved homeland, the war waged by the Communist regime against the Church was at its height. During the Stalinism period Wyszyński was arrested and imprisoned for three years at several places of confinement.
It was at that time that the Primate wrote Jasnogórskie Śluby Narodu (The Jasna Góra Vows of the Polish Nation), which after his release from imprisonment became part of the Great Novena – a cycle of prayers that for nine years prepared Poles for the celebrations of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland.
Since the Primate believed in Poland’s spiritual renewal through the Marian cult, on 3 May 1966, he submitted – on behalf of the nation – the Act of the Consecration of Poland to Mary’s Motherly Love for the freedom of the Church in Poland and all over the world. The anniversary of the baptism of Poland became an evident proof of national identity, uniting the generations of Poles through the centuries.
Primate Wyszyński was actively involved in the work of the Second Vatican Council. He was greatly trusted by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. Ties of true friendship developed between the Primate and Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who, as Pope John Paul II, expressed this in the following words: “Venerable and beloved Primate, (…) This Polish Pope, full of the fear of God, but also full of trust, beginning today a new pontificate, would not be on the See of Peter, if it were not for your faith, which does not shrink from prison and suffering, your heroic hope, your complete trust in the Mother of the Church, if it were not for Jasna Góra – and this whole period of the history of the Church in our homeland, linked to your service as Bishop and Primate.”
Primate Wyszyński, a good shepherd, has left us a rich heritage, and the example of his ministry could serve as a paragon of respect for every human being, and of concern for the unity of the Church and the solidarity of the nation.