Poland Commemorates 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Primate of the Millennium
Card. Stefan Wyszyński. Credit - Instytut Prymasowski
“I am attached to Zuzela with my heart. After all, every man is bound by his heart and feelings to the place of his birth. Here, in this parish family, I was born twice: in flesh and blood from my mother and through Christ’s blood in the sacrament of Baptism,” said Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in 1971. Today, Poland commemorates the 120th anniversary of the birth of the Primate of the Millennium, who will be beatified in just over a month. The Primate’s birthday is being honored with exhibitions, a family picnic, and the backstage of a feature film.
The sash of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski’s funeral wreath bears the inscription: “To the Uncrowned King of Poland.” Yet, when he was born on August 3rd, 1901, his hometown of Zuzela lay within the borders of the Russian Empire. “Even his baptismal certificate was written in Cyrillic. It was symbolic that his father was the only one to sign this act in Latin letters,” says Piotr Dmitrowicz, director of the Museum of John Paul II and Primate Wyszynski. The historian draws attention to the attitude of his father who, after the premature death of his mother, Julianna, raised young Stefan in the spirit of patriotism. Piotr Dmitrowicz emphasizes that Stanisław Wyszyński used to take his son on secret expeditions with other inhabitants of Zuzela to repair the crosses of the insurgents who died in the January Uprising. In the Wyszyński home importance was given to reading “24 Pictures from the History of Poland.”
“Of course, it was forbidden, it was not allowed to be kept in the house, but my father was a man so devoted to the matters of the Nation that, risking persecution, he was not afraid to teach his children Polish history, although secretly. In that book, I found the façade of St. Adalbert’s Basilica in Gniezno. Already then, I fell in love with it, although I did not know what was to come,” Cardinal Wyszyński recalled later.
On the 120th anniversary of the birth of the Primate of the Millennium, resolutions of the Sejm and the Senate established the 2021 as the Year of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. On this occasion, the Museum of John Paul II and Primate Wyszynski prepared an outdoor exhibition under the title “Time is Love.”
In connection with the Year of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, a film about the unknown wartime fate of the future Primate is also being made. “Wyszyński – Revenge or Forgiveness” is a story about the priest lieutenant Stefan Wyszyński, chaplain of the Home Army under the pseudonym “Radwan III,” serving in the insurgent hospital in Laski. The premiere will take place during the beatification of the Primate and Mother Róża Czacka.
The Sunday celebrations in Zuzela are behind us. The pontifical mass on the 120th anniversary of the birth of Cardinal Wyszynski was attended, among others, by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The head of Poland’s government said that the Primate of the Millennium helped preserve the spirit of Polish independence. “His words sustained the Polish call for freedom (…) he was the uncrowned King of Poland—he was considered as such by Poles, but also by the communist authorities, who feared his strong willpower,” added the Prime Minister.