Catholics in Poland have been formed by deeply Christian culture, they are devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and consecrated to Our Lady of Częstochowa.
Raised in the bosom of the Catholic Church and purified through the crucible of suffering, Poland has produced at least five Saints who literally changed the world.
- Saint “Brother Albert” Chmielowski
Chmielowski found happiness in serving the poor, an act he valued more than his life as an artist. He became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis and devoted himself to caring for the poor and homeless of Krakow. He was able to build a shelter for the homeless with the money he made from selling his paintings. He later founded the Albertine Brothers and Sisters and established homes for the poor across Poland.
The saintly life of Brother Albert to a great extent influenced the priestly vocation of Saint John Paul II.
- Saint Faustina Kowalska
Young Faustina who was then known as Helena, was a poor girl who was initially refused entrance to a convent because of her poverty. She worked as a housekeeper for several years before she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw.
Her devotion to God made her become the recipient of numerous private revelations from Jesus in the 1930s. Her experiences are contained in a 600 pages Diary. The message of Divine Mercy began to spread from this Diary, leading to the Worldwide celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.
- Saint Maximilian Kolbe
He had a vision of Our Lady as a child where he accepted the white and red crowns offered to him by Our Lady. The white crown meant perseverance in purity while the red one meant Martyrdom. Kolbe devoted himself to Mary Immaculate for the rest of his life and founded a Franciscan monastery that spread devotion to Our Lady through printed publications. During the Nazi occupation, Kolbe sheltered 2,000 Jews at his monastery and was eventually arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. It was at this camp that Kolbe freely gave up his life in place of another man. His example of selfless love continues to inspire the world.
- Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko
Popiełuszko, a simple priest, opposed the unjust laws of the Communist party through his sermons and his monthly open-air “Masses for Freedom.” Thousands of people would attend his Masses and his peaceful resistance to Communism bolstered those fighting for change. His opposition did not go unnoticed and he was assassinated by Security Police, causing a national uproar. Popiełuszko’s example kept the Polish people’s hopes alive for a free Poland, which was realized a few years after his death.
- Saint John Paul II
Known by many as “Saint John Paul the Great,” John Paul II helped topple Communism and changed the world’s perception of Catholicism through his loving example and youthful ardor. He will go down as one of the greatest saints of all time.
Summarized by Theresa Frances