The Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka – at the Tomb of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko
27 kwietnia 2010 | 11:16 | KAI / maz Ⓒ Ⓟ
Initially Fr. Popiełuszko was to have been buried in Powązki Cemetery. The pastor of the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Fr. Teofil Bogucki, the faithful and the slain Priest’s numerous friends asked Cardinal Primate to allow a burial in the churchyard. He consented and the memory of Fr. Jerzy has been cherished here until today.
The tomb, designed by Jerzy Kalina, is shaped like a burial mound surrounded by rosary beads of field stones arranged to resemble an outline of Poland’s borders. The stone cross of the rosary is laid in the centre of the tomb. The link between the crucifix and the rosary is made of Poland’s Crowned Eagle with an image of Our Lady of Częstochowa on the chest. On a tree above the tomb there is a sculpture of Christ designed by Gustaw Zemła. In April 2010 Fr. Jerzy’s relics were exhumed and subject to the so-called canonical recognition (a requirement of canonisation law). The tomb was then renovated and the martyr’s body was laid in the same spot in a new coffin.
Masses for the Homeland
Holy Masses for the Homeland continued to be celebrated after Fr. Jerzy’ death. Until today they have taken place in the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka on each last Sunday of the month at 6 pm. As Fr. Zygmunt Malacki, the current parish priest observes, after the beatification these will be Holy Masses for the Homeland through the intercession of Fr. Jerzy.
Fr. Teofil Bogucki set up the Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko Pro-Life Movement in the parish as early as in 1984. It has continued its operation until today, providing support to large families and single mothers.
Prayer on the Day of the Martyr’s Death
In the spirit of Fr. Jerzy’s message, Holy Masses ‘for the conversion of murderers and for the victory of love over hatred’ were celebrated in the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka on the 19th day of each month, on the day of his death. Later, the faithful prayed on this day for Fr. Jerzy’s beatification. After June 6, 2010, a novena to Fr. Jerzy will be celebrated on the 19th day of each month.
The Museum of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko was established in the vaults of the church on the 20th anniversary of the Priest’s death. The initiative proved a huge success as the Museum has so far been visited by 350,000 people. The Museum holds documents, memorabilia, photos, and friends’ accounts related to the chaplain of ‘Solidarity’, all demonstrating his life and tragic death.
The parish’s ‘Amicus’ Lodge that offers rooms, conference halls and multimedia equipment also bears the name of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko. The Lodge provides accommodation to pilgrims arriving at the Priest’s tomb and is used for a variety of pastoral and social projects.
The Phenomenon of Church Services
Since the funeral day until today various church services have been present at the ‘Solidarity’s’ chaplain’s tomb day and night. A few thousand people volunteered to keep guard at the church when rumours spread that the Secret Police were going to abduct the martyr’s body. Five distinct groups have developed in the course of time: ‘Totus Tuus’, i.e. the guards that keep constant vigil at the tomb and assist during major celebrations, as well as liturgy, medical, information services (members of the last group are also tour guides) and a group that collect numerous documents dedicated to Fr. Jerzy. At present the entire group numbers approx. 700 people. Often they come to perform their duty from distant Polish cities such as Poznań, Radom or Siedlce.
The Jerzy Bell
A bell dedicated to Fr. Jerzy, featuring an image of St. George piercing a dragon with his lance and an image of Fr. Popiełuszko, is one of the bigger bells in Poland. Weighing 5 tons, it bears the following inscription: ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’. The bell resounded for the first time to greet John Paul II in 1987.
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