Cardinal Wyszynski took his coat and prayed

The Primate Is Arrested (December 28, 2007 by Jasna Gorak): Our Lady of Czestochowa: Continuing the beautiful story of the heroic resistance of the Polish Church to the onslaught of Communism, we chronicle the arrest of the Primate, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski.

On the Feast of St.Ladyslaw, patron of Warsaw, the Cardinal offered Mass for his seminarians early in the morning. The date was Friday, September 25th, 1953. That evening he preached at St. Anne’s Church, and in an act of classic Polish devotion and spirituality, blessed the faithful with the relics of St. Ladyslaw.

There was tension in the air, though, and the faithful could sense that trouble was coming. As Andrzej Micewski relates in his autobiography, Cardinal Wyszynski, as the Cardinal left the rectory he spoke briefly to the young people, telling them to “Say the Rosary. You know Michelangelo’s Last Judgement? God’s angel pulls man out of the abyss on a rosary. Say the Rosary for my intention” (Micewski, p.131)

He would not have to wait long for the Communists to come for his arrest, for just after he arrived home to the archiepiscopal residence on Miodawa Street and had turned out the lights for the evening, there was a banging at the door. The Communist plainclothes police had come for Stefan Wyszynski, and in accordance with the plan of the authorities he was to be immediately removed from Warsaw.

Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski

There are two aspects of this event that give us a deep insight into both the exemplary moral character of the Cardinal, and into his deep and indomitable faith.

Before the plainclothes police could enter the residence, the Cardinal’s dog Baca ran from the yard and bit one of the Communist officers. In an act of faithfulness to the Gospel, Cardinal Wyszynski, unsure of whether he was on his way to jail or to his death, calmly and quickly came to the aid of the policeman by dressing his wound.

After applying iodine to the wound and assuring the officer that the dog was not rabid, Cardinal Wyszynski prepared to leave for his exile by simply taking his breviary and rosary, along with his coat. Urged by the Sister in charge of the residence to take more of his belongings, the Cardinal replied by saying that “Sister, I will take nothing. I came to this house poor and I will leave it poor.” (Ibid. p.133)

Bishop Michael Kozal

Interestingly enough, the coat that the Cardinal chose to take with him was the one given to him by a friend of Bishop Michael Kozal, murdered in Dachau, having belonged to the Bishop. When he realized this, the Cardinal was glad, realizing that he had found an intercessor to whom he would pray a lot in his exile.

As a Pole, his last act before leaving the residence is predictably telling. As everyone went down the stairs, “The Primate went into the chapel for a moment and then glanced at the picture of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa that was hanging above the entrance to the Hall of the Popes.”

Our Lady of Czestochowa is most aptly described as the Mother of the Polish Nation. It is she who is sent by God to protect her Polish sons and daughters from every “confrontation” that “…lies within the plans of Divine Providence” (Karol Cardinal Wojyla, Farewell address 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia)

She is the “Woman” promised in Genesis 3:15 who comes to comfort, love and guide her children, as “…in God’s Plan”, they confront every trial which the Church “…must take up, and face courageously.”(ibid)

The Black Madonna of Czestochowa icon was, according to legend, painted by St. Luke on a cypress table top taken from the house of the Holy Family. In this beautiful icon, the Blessed Virgin Mary manifests both her humility and shows us our path by pointing with her right hand to Jesus, the source of our salvation.

Jasna Gora MonasteryIn the 17th century, she saved the Jasnan Gora monastery from The Deluge, changing the course of the war in the fight against the Sweedish invasion. In thanksgiving for this great favour from Heaven, King Jan Kazimierz crowned the Black Madonna as Queen and Protector of Poland in the Cathedral of Lwow on April 1, 1656. From that moment on, she became the “Mother of the Polish Nation” serving as the icon of unity for all her Polish children.

Her maternal bond with the people of Poland reaches perhaps it’s zenith in the 20th century, beginning with the “Miracle on the Vistula”, otherwise known as “The Battle of Warsaw”, fought in August of 1920.

This is the story of the decisive confrontation against the Red Army for control of Warsaw. Most observers had given Poland up for dead against the Soviets. Interestingly enough, all of the diplomatic corps had left in anticipation of the impending defeat with one exception, Msgr. Achille Ratti, the Pope’s representative, and future Pius XI.

We're a human development centered cooperative, producing in part through the generous and faithful contributions of our North Star members. Choose your membership: Annual ($36), Monthly ($3), ($5), ($10), ($15), ($30), ($70), ($200), ($500), ($1000).