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May 23, 2024

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Cardinal Wyszynski and Mother Elzbieta
Beatified In Poland

Papal envoy beatifies Polish Cardinal and blind nun in Warsaw

WARSAW, POLAND – Polish Primate Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, who defied communism but refused to hate communists, was beatified here on September 12th, 2021 by Papal Legate Cardinal Marcello Semeraro. Co-beatified at the same ceremony was Róża Czacka who, as blind nun Mother Elżbieta, had devoted her life to aiding the sightless. Beatification is the penultimate step leading to Catholic sainthood.

The beatification, originally planned for 2020 in central Warsaw’s  Piłsudski Square, was postponed until now over pandemic concerns. The ceremony was held at the city’s huge, still incomplete, modernistic Sanctuary of Divine Providence. The congregation was limited to 7,000 including some 600 priests and 80 bishops, 45 from other countries. Ten times as many faithful had been expected at capacious Piłsudski Square.

The ceremony recalled the numerous achievements of “the uncrowned King of Poland” and “the Primate of the Millennium,” as Wyszyński was often referred to. He was best remembered for shepherding the Polish Church and nation through 33 years of Soviet-style oppression up till the peaceful Solidarity revolution of 1981. He died of cancer at 79 in  May of that year, Subjected by the communists to three years of total isolation, Wyszyński was publicly slandered by the red regime as a “lackey” of Western imperialism and German “revanchists.” In the notes he made while in detention he wrote: “They (the communists-RS) will not make me hate them. He who hates has already been defeated.”

It was no coincidence that the Primate was co-beatified with Róża Czacka, a Polish noblewomen who had lost her sight in a riding accident at the age of 22. But she saw her disability as a sign from God and dedicated her life to helping the blind. She founded the Franciscan Sisters Servants of the Cross, an order of nuns devoted to the care and education of the blind and vision impaired. It  was based in the forested Laski area outside Warsaw which eventually became a unique, self-contained “city of the blind.”

Father Wyszyński first met Mother Elżbieta in the late 1930s and was greatly inspired by her total service to God and fellow-man as well as her deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. During World War II, the future primate convinced the nun to set up a clandestine hospital in her sylvan retreat for Polish insurgents wounded in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.  He would aid and support her Laski facility till his dying day. Those two saintly friends and allies in the Faith have now joined the more than 260-strong heavenly legion of Polish blesseds and saints.

By Robert Strybel
Warsaw Correspondent

Photo: Catholic News Agency