Saturday, June 05, 2010

Jerzy Lives

While most of the global church observes this Sunday as the transferred observance of Corpus Christi, the church in Poland -- where the feast remains on its traditional Thursday -- will be commemorating a more recent martyr for freedom.

At a Mass in Warsaw's Pidulski Square expected to draw in excess of a quarter-million people, the Vatican's lead saintmaker -- the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato -- will beatify Fr Jerzy Popieluzsko, a chaplain to the Solidarity movement whose massive open liturgies peacefully protesting the country's Communist regime saw him bound and beaten and tossed into a reservoir in October 1984 at age 37.

Revered as a hero of Poland's latest struggle for independence, following the Mass relics of the new blessed will be processed from the square to a new basilica built especially to house them. Since his death, Popieluszko tomb in the front yard of his last parish assignment has received over 17 million visitors.

In a poignant coda, the relics will be brought forward at the liturgy's start by Fr Jerzy's mother, Marianna, who stopped to pray at her son's grave (above) earlier today.

According to CNS, more than 80 streets and squares in Poland bear the priest's name, alongside hundreds of statues and some 18,000 schools, charities and youth groups.

The beatification is a fitting start to this final week of the Vatican's Year for Priests, which'll close with two days of rites beginning Thursday in Rome. Some 10,000 clergy are expected to converge on the city from across the globe for the celebrations.

Reuters(1); AP(2)