how to raise a saint and a martyr in the heart of Europe today

In just few hours Marianna Popieluszko will be present at the Mass for the Beatification of her son, father Jerzy Popieluszko (Yeh-zhee  Poh-pye-woosh-koh), who was murdered over 25 years ago. She will carry the relics of her own son to the altar.

Father Jerzy Popieluszko was a Solidarity chaplain and became a spiritual leader of those who were pursuing non-violent liberation of Poland from Communism. You can read father Jerzy’s story in many places now, but I wanted to find more about his upbringing, childhood and the role of his parents in raising a present day saint and martyr.

These are few nuggets that I found around the web, mostly from his mom’s interviews.

Father Jerzy’s family lived in a small village Okopy in the far East of Poland, which is almost exactly the geographical center of Europe. His parents were peasants, lived simply and were very devout Catholics, as most of Poles in that region. When Marianna was pregnant with her son, she consecrated him to the glory of God and to Mary, and prayed that he will become a priest one day. She says that she doesn’t know if her prayers were answered, or maybe someone else’s prayerful petitions, but Jerzy, born on the Feast of the Cross, became a priest.

“God gives grace, and if a person responds to it, and walks God’s way, he will receive this grace.”

Since his childhood, Jerzy was fascinated by priesthood. He would walk 5km (3 miles) daily before the school to serve as an altar boy at the Holy Mass, and after school he went to church to pray Rosary. People thought that he was to spiritual. His mom was told by the elementary school principal that Jerzy spends to much time in church.

“After seventh grade he wanted to join lower seminary in Niepokalanow (Maximilan Kolbe’s City of the Immaculate), but I told him that he was to young then. When his friends finished high school and were celebrating the High Scholl Ball – he took the train to Warsaw for the seminary. I was happy when he became priest and I was praying constantly that he will be faithful to God, because this is the most important thing in life”.

She was teaching her children daily how to pray, kneeling before the small home altar with the figure of the Holy Mother. On Wednesdays – they prayed to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, on Fridays – to the Heart of Jesus, on Saturdays – to Black Madonna of Czestochowa. In May the whole family would recite Litany of the Blessed Virgin, in July – Litany to the Blood of Jesus, in October and throughout the rest of the year – the Rosary. During the storms she would lit a candle and pray.

“His first seminary was in his home.”

“He was a nice, obedient child, but every child can be that way, if parents will keep them straight. All my children were the same. I did not punish them, there was no hitting, just very stern words: You have to do it!
My kids were not into mischief. Whoever prays well, this person has no place for silliness in life.”

“Death of Jerzy for me is like a stone for my whole life. It is a great pain. This wound is opening over and over, for who can forget such a thing. But I do not judge no one, and I do not demand no one’s death. God Himself will judge them one day. And the murderer’s will have to bare their penance. But I ask Jesus to forgive them. I would be the most happy if they would come to God.”

John Paul II concluded meeting with Marianna: “Mother, you have given us a great son”. And she responded, suprising even the pope: “Holy Father, I did not give him, but God has given him to the world through me. I gave him to the Church and I can’t take him back.” The Pope kissed her and hugged her.

What is the most important thing in life?

“To be faithful to God and, as much as one can, to serve others.

She feels his presence.

“Once my legs were hurting me greatly and I should go for surgery. When I came to the grave of father Jerzy, the pain dissapeared. Now I can digg potatoes even for the whole week without a break” (she was over 80 years old when she said that).

How does it feel to be a mother of a martyr?

“You will know it only if you live through it. You have to receive the will of God. God chooses his martyrs. It is not possible to become one without His grace.”

What do you pray while you pray Rosary?

“I pray for repentance of sinners, priestly vocations, and I thank for received graces.”

What is the most important thing in life?

” God. If God is first, everything will take its rightful place. After you wake up, think about God right away. Then Rosary – one part. And then you start your day.

Do you pray to father Jerzy?

“I pray to God.”

But through father’s intercession?

“I don’t bother him, because people have more urgent needs, and he knows what I need and he is asking God for it.”

Do you feel his protection?

” I feel protection of Mary, Queen of Poland. Mother understands the best and in her hands is everything.”

Last words of father Popieluszko, before going on a fateful trip to another city:

“Let’s pray so we can be free from fear and intimidation, but mostly free from the desire of revenge and retaliation”

Announcement of finding the body of father Popieluszko, where people gathered in the church and during the prayer Our Father, repeat three times “… and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

The next day father Jerzy’s mom in the church where Popieluszko served turned to the people and said: “I forgive. I forgive.”

Marianna received St. Rita’s International reward, which is given to people who forgive the murderers of their loved ones. She says she has forgiven the murderers of her son and she is praying for their conversion. She said that “they were fighting God, not my son”, and that they were trying to fight the Church. Since then she can’t recite other mysteries of Rosary than Sorrowful decades.

Polish late President Lech Kaczynski awarded posthumously father Jerzy Popieluszko with an Order of the White Eagle which is the highest decoration given to Polish citizens for their merits. Here he is kissing Marianna’s hand and expressing his gratitude.

The mother of Father Jerzy Popieliszko, Marianna, second left, prays with family members at her son’s grave in front of the St. Stanislaw Kostka church in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 5, 2010

Director’s commentary:

English Language version of the movie is in preparation:

Sanctuary of Bl. Jerzy Popiełuszko

Marianna Popiełuszko in procession behind her son’s relics:

Update: Oct 2012 – new book called “Mother of the Saint” just came out. Once I get it and read it, I’ll update this post. 🙂

Ty, Panie, wiesz, że chciałbym zachować do końca paru przyjaciół

Panie, Ty wiesz lepiej aniżeli ja sam,

że się starzeje i pewnego dnia bedę stary.

Zachowaj mnie od zgubnego nawyku mniemania,

ze muszę coś powiedzieć na każdy temat i przy każdej okazji.

Odbierz mi chęć prostowania każdemu jego ścieżek.

Uczyń mnie poważnym, lecz nie ponurym, czynnym, lecz nie narzucającym się.

Szkoda mi nie spożytkować wielkich zasobów mądrości, jakie posiadam,

ale Ty, Panie, wiesz, że chciałbym zachować do końca paru przyjaciół.

Wyzwól mój umysł od niekończącego brnięcia w szczegóły

i dodaj mi skrzydeł, bym w lot przechodził do rzeczy.

Zamknij mi usta w przedmiocie mych niedomagań i cierpień, w miarę jak ich przybywa,

a chęć wyliczenia ich staje się z upływem lat coraz słodsza.

Nie proszę o łaskę rozkoszowania sie opowieściami o cudzych cierpieniach ,

ale daj mi cierpliwość wysłuchania ich.

Nie śmiem Cie prosić o lepszą pamięć, ale prosze Cię o większą pokorę

i mniej niezachwianą pewność, gdy moje wspomnienia wydają sie sprzeczne z cudzymi.

Uzycz mi chwalebnego poczucia, że czasami moge się mylić.

Zachowaj mnie miłym dla ludzi, choć z niektórymi z nich doprawdy trudno wytrzymać.

Nie chcę byc świętym, ale zgryźliwi starcy- to jeden ze szczytów osiągnięć szatana.

Daj mi zdolność dostrzegania dobrych rzeczy w nieoczekiwanych miejscach

i niespodziewanych zalet w ludziach. Daj mi, Panie łaskę mówienia im o tym.

Tekst znajdujący sie przy grobie Świętego Tomasz z Akwinu w Tuluzie

Magnificent U2



I was born

I was born to be with you

In this space and time

After that and ever after

I haven’t had a clue

Only to break rhyme

This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark

But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born

I was born to sing for you

I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up

And sing whatever song you wanted me to

I give you back my voice

From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark

But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify

The Magnificent


from U2 new album No Line on the Horizon

(much of the quality is lost in this clip, but you can buy this song here)

Christianity Today has something to say about this new album here

night vigil

This was on Friday night, in the old town center of Wroclaw, Poland. Beauty of the surroundings helps to focus and inspires enormously.

People from Hallelu Jah gather there monthly for a 3h night vigil. This time we prayed mostly for the evangelism which was to take place in two days in the main square of Wroclaw.

I walked these streets millions of times before…

Ostrow Tumski

European Immersion 08

Euro Imm - eblast

The European Immersion is an opportunity to come to the International House
of Prayer in Kansas City for three weeks to enjoy the Global Prayer Room and
participate in customized sessions, focusing on three aspects of Jesus:
Bridegroom, King, and Judge.

The dates are August 2-22, 2008. This event is open to adults 18 till 30 years

of age.

$375 is the registration fee. For those from Dutch, German, French or Spanish

speaking European Nation we can provide special arrangement like

accommodation and food and of course translation for an additional $280.

Click here for more information…


Program umożliwiający pobyt w Międzynarodowym Domu Modlitwy w Kansas City przez trzy tygodnie. Uczestnictwo w Sali Modlitwy i w sesjach nauczań opisujących trzy charykterystyki Jezusa: Oblubieńca, Króla i Sędziego.

Daty: 2-22 sierpnia

Wiek: 18-30 lat

Koszt: 375 USD

pomysł. day 13

co w tym oczekiwaniu świętego

wyzwól we mnie radość

ze zbawienia

poplątane wątki

Ty mi rozsupłaj

utul moją gorycz

roztrzepotane wnętrze moje


co jest dalej

co jest głębiej

co jest wyżej

co jest tam

czego nie ma tu

czego nie widać

a co jest prawdziwe

chcę poznać to

co zakryte

masz jakiś pomysł?

zdobycz duchowa. spiritual gain. day 11

photo by Lateefa

zdobycz duchowa spiritual gain

łatwa do stracenia jest so easy to loose

pamięć o niej jednak the remembrance of it

drąży w zakamarkach hollows out in the nooks

jestestwa of being

nie pozwala chodzić w zastanej rzeczywistości forbidding to walk in a known reality

kto bowiem raz skosztował because who once tasted

nie zadowoli się ochłapem will not be pleased with the scrap

samej pamięci of a mere remembrance

lecz wyrwie serce swoje but will tore his heart out

zostawi wszystko will leave everything

nie będzie już grzebać umarłych will not bury the dead

lecz popędzi but will rush off

do źródła egzystencji to the source of existence

do sedna sprawy zajrzy will look into the heart of the matter

jak do studni like into the well

i ujrzy oblicze Boga samego to catch a glimpse of God’s countenance

w zwierciadle duszy in the mirror of his soul

stęsknionej za Panem longing for the Lord

tylko ten krzyż plącze się między nogami

only this cross entangled around me

co by tu z nim zrobić

what could I do with it

Father’s day

I don’t have many memories about my father, and all of them, except two, are dark and rather terrifying.

The bad

1. Fear. My father running around the dark wooden table with an ax, chasing my mom, yelling and threatening to kill her. I am in my bed, somewhere around 2-3 years old. I cry very loud, I scream from fear of loosing my mom, my world, the only known safety. Everything is collapsing around me. I can’t control my breathing, my throat hurts, an my heart pounds very hard. The thoughts of loosing my mom and possibly loosing my life leave me paralyzed. I can’t move, I can’t run, I can’t do anything, except scream uncontrollably.

2. My father takes me to the bar. I don’t know what to expect. When I go in, I see few tables. The smell of the cigarettes chokes me, the smoke lingers everywhere. It’s very loud. Every table is surrounded by few men, drinking mostly beer, at this time of the day, early afternoon. The beer glasses are sticky, drinks are spilled everywhere. Loud conversations between not quite sober men, sliced in between with the few shouts of those who can’t control their tone of voice any more. I sit on a chair by one table. My father introduces me to his friends. He seems to be quite proud of me. They ask me questions, but I can’t understand all of them, they are mumbling plus the noise around kills the sound of their voices. They are drinking beer. I feel like I don’t belong to this world, where my father feels comfortable. He wanted to take me out somewhere, and I don’t remember nothing except this steamy, sleazy atmosphere on one common afternoon.

3. My father ringing the door bell. My grandmother lets him in, and he collapses in the hall. He is so drunk, he can’t even talk. My mom looks at him with disgust, my grandmother just pulls him inside, so she can shut the door. He lays there, smelling bad, not conscious, maybe sleeping. I am looking at him and I am glad he can’t hurt us tonight. We go to our rooms and we close the doors, hoping that we will not have to deal with this situation till the morning. Just another night…

4. My father tells me a story: “When the children are not good, then a bad, old man comes to the door, carrying a huge sack on his back, and he puts the naughty kids inside and carries them away”. I wonder if he made that story up, or if he heard it from someone else. I know it’s not true, but I am afraid of the unknown. I think about this story often afterwords.

photo by Smodger

The good

I couldn’t remember nothing positive about him. One time, when I was about 20, I asked God to bring to my memory at least one joyous moment connected with my father. Immediately, and quite unexpectedly I remembered it.

It was in our room. (We lived in one room, my grandmother in the other, and we shared the kitchen). Suddenly I see a bright sunlight spreading around the room. My father is laughing out loud, throwing me in the air, and catching me in his arms, when I fall down. This is the only memory, when I don’t fear him, when he is sober, and when his eyes are crystal clear blue. Like mine. I laugh out loud, falling gently into his arms. This is the first moment in my life, when I can thank my Father in heaven for my earthly father.

My father was an alcoholic. He left me and my mom, when I was few years old. Since then I saw him twice.

In my early twenties I visited him. But that’s another story…

Today I don’t even know if he is alive.

obiecanki cacanki

zakrwawione resztki godnosci

niewyjasnione zakamarki dni minionych

wygrzebane znikad uniesienia

rozkojarzone i prowadzace donikad

wyciskaja ze mnie soki racjonalnego myslenia

kresu nie widac

horyzont niebezpiecznie daleko

gdzie jest ta prostota wiary

obiecanki cacanki

dobij nie zabij

szybciej niz wolniej

dobierz sie do mnie

zanim zmatwieja poranne dotkniecia

najgorsze jest zapomnienie