Category Archives: Polish History

#269 – Two Christmas Traditions and a Third

Many cultures have special traditions for the celebration of Christmas. Polish Catholics celebrate with the sharing of opłatki. Austrian and German Catholics await the coming of the Christkindl. New traditions are also being established – for example, the Christmas Pickle.

Links:
You can purchase opłatki from here and here and here.
An example of the ritual of the sharing of opłatki can be found here and here.
A good video about the opłatki is available here.
Wikipedia’s article on the Christkind.
An article on the Austrian opposition to Santa Claus.
Article on the Christmas Pickle.
You can purchase a Christmas Pickle here.

Sources:

Image of opłatki by Julo
Image of Christkind by Albärt

An image of the Christkindl Angel can be found here.

Check out the other great podcasts at the Starquest Production Network

Send e-mail questions and comments to catholicunderthehood@gmail.com

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#269 – Two Christmas Traditions and a Third

Today in Catholic History – King John III Sobieski lifts the seige of Vienna

On 12 September 1683, the armies of the Holy Leaque commanded by King John III Sobieski of Poland lifted the two month siege of the city of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire.

The battle itself began early in the morning on the 12th at 4 AM. The Turkish commander, Mustafa Pasha, tried to attack the forces of the Holy League at the same time as he launched an attack on the city of Vienna. The Ottomans had been trying to use explosives to destroy the Viennese walls and hoped that one final explosion would open the city to their armies. However, the Viennese defenders were able to detect and disarm the explosive just before it detonated.

when the Polish cavalry charged, they broke through the Ottoman lines and the Ottoman forces, tired from the long siege and disillusioned after the failure of their attack on Vienna, fled. Sobieski was said to have paraphrased Julius Caesar’s famous quote – “Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit” or “We came, we saw, God conquered.”

The victory of the Holy League would in many ways mark a change in the fortunes of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires as the Habsburgs would begin a significant expansion into Ottoman territories. Pope Innocent XI would establish the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary on this date in honor of the victory.

#241 – The Formation of an Identity Part II

Surviving serious crisis and threats to its existence, the Uniate Church in the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth comes to see itself as flower shining forth the “grandeur of the Church”.

Sources:
Barbara Skinner – The Western Front of the Eastern Church. Uniate and Orthodox Conflict in 18th-century Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia 2009
Joseph Macha, SJ – Ecclesiastical Unification. A Theoretical Framework Together With Case Studies From the History of Latin-Byzantine Relations 1974
Paul Magocsi – A History of Ukraine 1996
Serhii Plokhy – The Cossacks and Religion in Early Modern Ukraine 2001

Be sure to check out the CUTH blog for more on the history of the Catholic Church

Also check out the other great podcasts at the Starquest Production Network

Send e-mail questions and comments to catholicunderthehood@gmail.com or leave voice mail at 1 740 936 4354

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#241 – The Formation of an Identity Part II

Today in Catholic History – Bishop Karol Wotyła ordains Stanisław Dziwisz

On 23 June 1963, Stanisław Dziwisz was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Krakow by Bishop Karol Wojtyła.

He will serve briefly as a parish priest before becoming the personal secretary of Wojtyła in October 1966 – a position he will hold until the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005. On 3 June 2005, Dziwisz will become the Archbishop of Krakow and a cardinal on the 24 March 2006.

George Weigel will describe the relationship between Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Dziwisz as “that which every father wants from a son: love and duty without fear or synchophany. Dziwisz brought complete loyalty, utter discretion, sharp judgement, a puckish sense of humor, and indefatigability to the job.”

More on Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz

Today in Catholic History – Clement XVI issues Cum Primum (On Civil Obedience) in response to uprising in Poland

On 9 June 1832, Pope Clement XVI issued his encyclical Cum Primum concerning the 1830-31 Polish uprising against Russian occupation.

Clement XVI condemned a rebellion against the “legitimate authority” by those operating “under the pretext of religion.” He urged the Polish Catholics to remain obedient to the Russian government in civil matters because “Your emperor will act kindly toward you; at no time will he deny his patronage for the good of the Catholic religion and he will always listen patiently to your requests.”

Many Polish Catholics felt this encyclical to be a betrayal, that Clement XVI had preferred to support the non-Catholic Russian Emperor over the Pole who had long defended the Catholic Church. Thus, the encyclical severely damaged relations between the Polish Catholics and the Vatican. Indeed some historians argue that a restoration of Polish Catholic faith in the Vatican did not return until the papacy of Pope John Paul II.

Gregory XVI did not condemn the Polish rebellion directly. Instead he offered general condemnation against any attack on “legitimate authority”. Clement XVI had witnessed first-hand the effects of revolution in 1831 in the Papal States. He had depended on the support and assistance of the Austrian Empire to restore his authority and had come to oppose all revolution wherever it took place.

Moreover, Clement XVI hoped that by trying to show that the Vatican supported Russian political authority, Tsar Nicholas I would permit the free exercise of the Catholic faith in Poland. Clement believed that Nicholas was in full control of Poland and calling for further resistance to Russia would be hopeless and only encourage further repression. The best policy would be to attempt to convince Nicholas of Polish loyalty in the hopes that he would not act against the Polish Church. This hope was not fulfilled and when Nicholas I continued to attack the Catholic Church in Poland, Clement XVI became much more critical of Russia saying in 1836 that “Catholicism has no more greater and more cruel foe than Nicholas I”.

See “Metternich, Pope Gregory XVI, and Revolutionary Poland, 1831-1842” by Alan J. Reinerman in The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 86, No. 4 (Oct., 2000), pp. 603-619 available here in .pdf format

Today in Catholic History – Solidarity victorious in Polish elections

On 4 June 1989, the Polish trade union Solidarity was victorious in the first relatively free elections in Poland since the Second World War. Despite pre-election polls which predicted a victory for the Communist Party, Solidarity was successful in virtually every seat which it had contested.

Solidarity is deeply rooted in Catholic teaching and history. Pope John Paul II put forward the concept of solidarity with the poor as an essential element of the Christian life in his Solicitudo Rei Socialis. One of the founders of Solidarity, Lech Wałęsa, confirmed the influence of Pope John Paul II saying, “The Holy Father, through his meetings, demonstrated how numerous we were. He told us not to be afraid”. One of the priests which was actively involved in Solidarity was Father Jerzy Popiełuszko who was killed by the Communist leadership in Poland because of his ministry to workers and will be beatified by the Catholic Church on 6 June 2010.

The success of Solidarity in Poland will inspire similar movements elsewhere and contribute to the eventual collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The home page of Solidarity

Today in Catholic History – Maximillian Kolbe arrives in Auschwitz

On 28 May 1941, Maximillian Kolbe arrived at the Auschwitz concentration camp as prisoner #16670.

In July of 1941, in response to the disappearance of a prisoner from Kolbe’s barracks, the camp officials sentenced ten men to death by starvation in order to prevent further escape attempts – though the man who had disappeared was later found drowned in the latrine. One of the ten men selected, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out ‘My wife! My children!’ upon his selection and Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

Kolbe spent his time in his cell as he endured starvation in songs and prayer. After three weeks without water and food, Kolbe was the last of the ten men still alive. He was executed by an injection of carbolic acid on 14 August 1941.


An audio account of Kolbe’s death in Auschwitz by a fellow prisoner
courtesy of The SaintCast

#232 – The Union of Brest, Part II

In this episode, we finish our look at the history of the Union of Brest and the effects that it had upon the Orthodox Church in the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth, plus I talk about leaving Austria.

Links:
Articles Concerning Union with the Roman Church
Map of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1600

One of the best books on this subject matter is “Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest” by Fr. Borys Gudziak

Photo – Image of the medal Clement VIII struck after the Union with the Ruthenian Church was established

CNMC MMX Boston 2010

Be sure to check out the CUTH blog for more on the history of the Catholic Church

Send e-mail questions and comments to catholicunderthehood@gmail.com or leave voice mail at 1 740 936 4354

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#232 – The Union of Brest, Part II

#231 – The Union of Brest, Part I

In the late 16th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Orthodox bishops faced some serious problems and would conclude that union with the Roman Catholic Church was the best solution.

Links:
Articles Concerning Union with the Roman Church
Map of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1600

One of the best books on this subject matter is “Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest” by Fr. Borys Gudziak

Photo – Image of the medal Clement VIII struck after the Union with the Ruthenian Church was established

Be sure to check out the CUTH blog for more on the history of the Catholic Church

Send e-mail questions and comments to catholicunderthehood@gmail.com or leave voice mail at 1 740 936 4354

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#231 – The Union of Brest

Today in Catholic History – The Baptism of Poland

On 14 April 966, Mieszko I – the first historical ruler of Poland, was baptized. This was followed by the baptism of the Polish people and the Christianization of that land. Where this baptism took place is a matter of historical debate, with Gniezno, Poznań, Ostrów Lednicki, Cologne, Regensburg and Rome being suggested.

Mieszko saw in Catholicism a way of uniting the Polish people in a common faith and of supporting his authority over Poland. Moreover, adopting Christianity gave it some protection against the strong German Holy Roman Empire on its borders which could have used Christianization as a motivation for attacking the Poles and putting them under its control. Other motivations suggested for the decision to be baptized are a desire to improve relations with the Czech kingdom of Bohemia to which his wife Dobrova belonged or a desire to weaken the powerful pagan priests.

Of course, since Poland chose to adopt Catholicism as a result of Czech missionaries from the West as opposed to its neighbor Russia which took the faith from the East, this will have profound effects on the future relations between these two peoples and the understanding of Slavic nationalism – these Czech missionaries had accompanied Dobrava when she married Mieszko in 965. Thus, Poland will adopt Latin liturgical traditions and the Latin alphabet whereas Russia will adopt the Slavonic alphabet and the liturgical traditions of Constantinople.

The baptism of Mieszko also may have had an influence on the Polish celebration of Dyngus Day. By tradition Mieszko was baptized on Easter Monday and the dousing of young women with water on Dyngus Day, celebrated on Easter Monday, may be related to this event.

For more on Mieszko and his baptism.