The setting of the celebrations of the Grand Millennium Jubilee of the Baptism of Poland in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Warsaw (23–24 June 1966)

Katarzyna Chrudzimska-Uhera

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw

[1]

Abstract

The National Millennium celebrations in the archcathedral basilica of St John the Baptist in Warsaw took place between 23–24 June 1966. In order to facilitate the organisation of the event, on 15 August 1965, the primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, announced a decree establishing the Committee for Commemorating the Millennium of Christianity in the Warsaw Archdiocese, whose task was to prepare the programme for millennium celebrations and oversee its execution. To facilitate the work of the Committee, an Executive Commission of 7 people was selected, with Bishop Jerzy Modzelewski as its chairman. The Commission was divided into five sections, including the artistic section, which was responsible for the design and supervision of performance of various artistic forms and exhibitions as part of the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. The artistic section comprised of prelate Jan Penkała (the chair), artists, architects and craftsmen originating from the Primate Council for the Reconstruction of Warsaw Churches. The artistic works, in the interiors of the Warsaw cathedral, were kept in a unified and constant form (fairly modern). They were designed for the upcoming Millennium and to commence the process of reconstruction of the interiors of the cathedral, entirely destroyed during World War II. The interiors of the chancel (throne of the archprelate, main altar with The Visitation of the Mother of God) survived in the unchanged, millennium form till the end of the 1980s.

Keywords: Millennium of the Baptism of Poland in Warsaw, 1966, archcathedral basilica of St John the Baptist in Warsaw, “arrest of the Mother of God”, Primate Stefan Wyszyński, Primate Council for the Reconstruction of Warsaw Churches, Committee for Commemorating the Millennium of Christianity in the Warsaw Archdiocese

————-

The National Millennium celebrations in the archcathedral basilica of St John the Baptist in Warsaw were planned for 23–24 June 1966 as part of the national celebrations “Na szlaku Tysiąclecia” [On the Millennium Trail] with the participation of the entire Polish Episcopate. The celebrations were to commence on 22 June at 18.30 with the arrival of the Jasna Góra painting peregrinating through Poland. The painting was to be exhibited and adored by the faithful[2]. Beside liturgical celebrations in the basilica, the programme also included a series of academic lectures and the opening of an exhibition on the history of Christianity in the archcathedral, including the contribution of the Church in the life of the society[3],[4].

In order to facilitate the organisation of the event, on 15 August 1965, the primate of Poland and the metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, announced a decree establishing the Committee for Commemorating the Millennium of Christianity in the Warsaw Archdiocese, whose task was to prepare the programme for millennium celebrations and oversee its execution[5]. The Committee coordinated the participation of the congregation in the services and “special pastoral activities”, such as the preparation of “the exhibition presenting various activities of the Church, monographs from individual parishes and archdioceses, religious concerts, personal and church mementos of the Millennium [...], lectures and academic sessions”.[6] The Committee comprised of suffragan bishops of Warsaw, representatives of the chapter, deans and parish priests, monks and laity. The latter mainly comprised of visual artists and architects[7]. In order to facilitate the work of the Committee, an Executive Commission of 7 people was selected with Bishop Jerzy Modzelewski as its chairman. The Commission was divided into five sections: worship, pastoral, artistic, historical and homiletical.[8] The sections were to act in concert with the supervising Executive Commission, which defined the general programme of their activities[9]. The artistic section comprised of prelate Jan Penkała (the chair), Adam Jabłoński and Władysław Pieńkowski[10]. According to the guidelines of the Commission, the artistic section was responsible for “the design and supervision of the exhibitions of the history of the Church and various artistic forms representing the Millennium of Christianity”. In particular, the artistic section oversaw: “1. – preparation of the exhibition […] of the history of the Warsaw archdiocese, entitled Warsaw Archdiocese in the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. […] The design of the script of the exhibition was prepared by the Primate Council for the Reconstruction of Warsaw Churches. 2. – assistance in the organisation of the parish exhibitions illustrating their history, or its fragments, of local churches and parishes. 3. – preparation and production of artistic millennium mementos, such as medallions, crosses, rings and stoups. 4 – design and setting of commemorative plaques, stoups, crosses, reliquaries, baptismal fonts and other forms of art that would remind future generations of the celebrations of the Millennium. 5. – obtaining from the government permission to build the Temple of Millennium in the archdiocese“[11].


[1] Acknowledgements for help in obtaining materials and for the discussions about the celebrations of the Millennium of 1966 to: Jerzy Bogusławski, Małgorzata Skrzypczak, Maria Wójcik, Rev. Dominik Zamiatała, Prof., PhD. and Rev. Janusz Zbudniewek, Prof., PhD.

[2] Archiwum Instytutu Prymasa Wyszyńskiego in Częstochowa [The Archive of the Institute of Primate Wyszyński] (hereinafter referred to as: AIPW), inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae Millenium w Archidiecezji Warszawskiej, Warszawa 1966, vol. II, appendix 6: Program Wielkiego Jubileuszu Tysiąclecia Chrztu Polski w Archidiecezji Warszawskiej 1966 r., p. 34.

[3] The series of lectures was planned for Friday, 24 June 1966. The programme included the lectures of prelate J. Wieteski Dzieje Kościoła Chrystusowego w Archidiecezji Warszawskiej, Bishop J. Modzelewski Święty Kościół Warszawski w Roku Millenijnym, a pastoral speech by Archbishop A. Baraniak, Millenijne pozdrowienie Macierzy Poznańskiej, closing lecture of Primate Cardinal S. Wyszyński; after: AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, appendix 9: Program Sacrum Poloniae Millenium Archidiecezji Warszawskiej, Warszawa 21–26 czerwca 1966 roku, pp. 55–56.

[4] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, appendix 6, p. 34.

[5] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, decree 5226/D/65 dated 15 Aug. 1956, pp. 17–19.

[6] Ibidem, p. 18.

[7] The decree establishing the Committee listed the following persons: craftsman, jeweller Adam Jabłoński, two sculptors – Józef Trenarowski (1907–1965) and Zofia Trzcińska-Kamińska (1890–1977), architects – Stanisław Marzyński (1904–1992) and Władysław Pieńkowski (1907–1991), also craftsman Kazimierz Wrzesiński and author Jerzy Zawieyski, the president of the Catholic Intelligence Club (ibidem, pp. 17–18).

[8] Ibidem, p. 19. The Executive Committee comprised also of: the secretary, Rev. Stanisław Wierzejski and the members: prelate Teofil Bogucki, prelate Mieczysław Jabłonka, Cardinal Władysław Miziołek, prelate Józef Wieteska.

[9] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, Ramowe Wytyczne Komisji Wykonawczej Komitetu Uczczenia Tysiąclecia Chrześcijaństwa w Archidiecezji Warszawskiej dla poszczególnych Sekcji Komitetu dated 25 Aug. 1965, pp. 22–28.

[10] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, decree 5347/D/65 dated 20 Aug. 1965, p. 20. The other members: Rev. Tomasz Bojasiński, Leszek Dunin, Zbigniew Jezierski, Prof. Rev. Andrzej Luft, sister Michaela – sacrament sister, father Tadeusz Paluszkiewicz TJ.

[11] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, Ramowe Wytyczne Komisji Wykonawczej Komitetu Uczczenia Tysiąclecia Chrześcijaństwa w Archidiecezji Warszawskiej dla poszczególnych Sekcji Komitetu dated 25 Aug. 1965, pp. 25–26.

[12] Bishop August Hlond on 4 Mar. 1946 became the head of the Warsaw-Gniezno archdiocese, still keeping the title of the primate of Poland, see: E.G. Wiązowski, Kardynał August Hlond jako twórca podstaw administracji kościelnej na Pomorzu Środkowym po II wojnie światowej, “Studia Koszalińsko-Kołobrzeskie”, 2013, no. 20/1–2, p. 149.

[13] “The document, after the consecration by the cardinal, was locked in a metal box and it was built in by him in the plinth of the chancel wall on the side of the Loretan Chapel, opposite the entrance to the Sacristy”; Kościoły Warszawy, Warszawa 1982, p. 53. This event is also described in: A. Grabowski, Pamiętnik redaktora, http://www.pinezka.pl/byl-sobie-czlowiek-arch/2993-pamietnik-redaktora [accessed: 6 Feb. 2017].

[14] Kronika, “Nasza Przeszłość” 2, 1948, p. 370.

[15] Dział urzędowy, Odezwa Jego Eminencji Ks. Kard. Prymasa Hlonda do Polaków w kraju i zagranicą w sprawie odbudowy kościołów warszawskich, “Wiadomości Archidiecezjalne Warszawskie” 31, 1947, nos. 6–7, pp. 129–130; quoted after: Rev. H. Małecki, Kardynał August Hlond (1881–1948), “Warszawskie Studia Teologiczne” XI, 1998, p. 83 [available on-line: http://pwtw.pl/wp-content/uploads/wst/11/Ma%C5%82ecki2.pdf].

[16] The first Primate Council comprised of: chair – Bishop Wacław Majewski, vicechairs – Archbishop Antoni Szlagowski and Bishop Zygmunt Choromański, secretary – Stanisław Leśniowski, treasurer – Adam Grabowski, members – Rev. Feliks de Ville, Rev. Zygmunt Kaczyński, Rev. Wacław Murawski, Rev. Jan Szmigielski, Rev. Jan Sztuka and Rev. Stefan Ugniewski, Prof. Antoni Ponikowski, Prof. Zdzisław Mączyński, Prof. Jan Zachwatowicz, Prof. Tadeusz Butkiewicz, architect Stanisław Marzyński, lawyers Stanisław Janczewski, Władysław Jan Grabski, Jerzy Zawieyski, editors Bogdan Skąpski, Władysław Wrześniewski, architects Konstanty Jakimowicz, Tadeusz Sadowski. The composition of the Council, according to the Statute of the Council, was renewed every five years, its new members were Jan Bogusławski (1910–1982), Zbigniew Wasiutyński (1902–1974), Witold Kamler (1906–1983), Władysław Danilecki and Adam Jabłoński. There were four sections operating under the auspices of the Council: the section of propaganda (press section), the section of construction (where architect Stanisław Marzyński actively operated), the section of finance and economy; see: Grabowski (fn. 13).

[17] In the 1950s, during the internment of Primate Wyszyński, the name of the Council was changed to: Archdiocesan Council for the Reconstruction of Warsaw Churches.

[18] The following publications describe these circumstances: W.J. Grabski, Kościoły Warszawy w odbudowie, Warszawa 1956 and published 25 years later: Kościoły Warszawy, Warszawa 1982; many publications of Lech Dunin: Podziemia kościołów starej Warszawy: archikatedra św. Jana, kościół N. M. P. Łaskawej, Warszawa 1957; Skarby spod gruzów: niektóre zabytki ocalałe w kościołach warszawskich, Warszawa 1958; Przewodnik po kościołach Starego i Nowego Miasta Warszawy, Warszawa 1979; Przewodnik po Bazylice św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie, Warszawa 1981.

[19] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, p. 10.

[20] Kościoły Warszawy… 1982 (fn. 18), p. 62.

[21] According to the design of Stanisław Marzyński(?). Door forged in copper sheets, divided into plots with the presentations of: relocation of the collegiate church from Czersk; the sermon of Piotr Skarga; the swearing-in ceremony of the 3rd May Constitution; consecration of Archbishop Achilles Ratti, later Pius XI, by Aleksander Kakowski. The main plots are devoted to the life of St John the Baptist (patron saint of the Cathedral). The frame of the plots was decorated with Polish eagles and mermaids (in various historical contexts), and above, the ogive finial – with the cross, coats of arms of the chapter and Primate Wyszyński; see: L. Dunin, Rev. J. Wysocki, Przewodnik po bazylice św. Jana Chrzciciela w Warszawie, Warszawa 1981, p. 12; Kościoły Warszawy… 1982 (fn. 18), pp. 61, 72.

[22] As reproduced in: Kościoły Warszawy… 1982 (fn. 18), pp. 73, 74.

[23] Archiwum Akt Nowych [Archive of New Files] (hereinafter referred to as: AAN), sign. 1587, 78/71, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie [Przebieg i ocena uroczystości millenijnych], Peregrynacja obrazu, p. 107.

[24] AAN), sign. 1587, 78/70, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie [Przygotowania kościoła do uroczystości milenijnych], Peregrynacja obrazu N.M.P. Częstochowskiej, author: TW, 22 Jun. 1966, p. 125.

[25] AAN), sign. 1587, 78/89a, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie, [Działalność Duszpasterska – Obchody “Millenijne” w Warszawie], Pismo kierownika Wydziału do Spraw Wyznań do Kurii Metropolitalnej Warszawskiej, Warsaw, 22 Jun. 1966, p. 35.

[26] Cardinal Wyszyński reported this event during the homily delivered in the church of St Stanisław Kostka in Żoliborz: “Gentlemen in white gloves detained us for 3 hours. Children were crying. The painting was taken and delivered to the cathedral. [...] The rights of the nation, my own rights were trampled. I protest against it. The fact that they took over the painting is not only a profanation, but also sacrilege”; AAN, sign. 1587, 78/89a, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie, [Działalność Duszpasterska – Obchody “Millenijne” w Warszawie], Uroczystości Millenijne w Warszawie [Meldunek], p. 44.

[27] Ibidem, pp. 45–46.

[28] Ibidem, p. 46.

[29] The symbol found in the pro-cathedral in Białystok on 21 November, where thanksgiving Te Deum resounded for the last time in the millennium year. Due to “Mary’s arrest”, an empty frame, 100×70 cm, with a blue background hung above the main entrance to the church, yet the official press releases said nothing about this fact; cf. AAN), sign. 1587, 78/77, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie, [Działalność Duszpasterska – Obchody “Millenijne” uroczystości kościelne na terenie województwa białostockiego].

[30] AAN, sign. 1587, 78/74, Urząd do Spraw Wyznań w Warszawie, [Działalność Kościoła Rzymsko-katolickiego. Millenium – recenzje wstępne], List pasterski Episkopatu Polski na zakończenie Roku Jubileuszowego Tysiąclecia Chrześcijaństwa w Polsce, Olsztyn 6 Dec. 1966, p. 233.

[31] The base for the wooden frame of the chair was a big, square veneered board, on which a much narrower, square seat and backrest, upholstered with red leather, were placed. Four legs in the corners of the board had a light and openwork form built of three slats (of square section), running diagonally towards the base; the middle slat optically continued to the support of the upholstered armrests.

[32] Jan Bogusławski was involved in the reconstruction of the Royal Castle, executed prestigious designs (among many the interior of Ministers’ Council Office and Batory ship); he was also a very much appreciated lecturer at the Department of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology and National Higher School of Fine Arts in Poznań.

[33] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. I, pp. 11.

[34] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, appendix 6, p. 37. Yet another way of commemorating the Millennium, were historical papers (publications) prepared by the historical section of the Committee.

[35] The artistic director of the Cooperative – Adam Jabłoński was a member of the Council; AIPW, inv. (757) 1898, Projekt przedstawiający różne formy plastyczne uczczenia Millenium, pp. 1–3.

[36] Ibidem, pp. 1–2.

[37] Cf. reproduction in: Kościoły Warszawy… 1982 (fn. 18), p. 82.

[38] AIWP, inv. (757) 1192, Scenariusz Wystawy Millenium “Gniezno – Warszawa”, pp. 1–4.

[39] The exhibition had a didactic-problematic character. It comprised mostly of photographs printed on large boards. Materials arrived: from Łowicz collegiate church (photographs of chasubles, including those of Polish primates), as well as paintings (portraits of primates and works witnessing their patronage), printed materials and letters; from Gniezno – excavated wooden architecture, fragments of Roman architecture (casts or original works), paintings (portraits of primates), sculpture representing their patronage, printed materials, facsimiles of manuscripts; from Warsaw – besides the architecture of the archcathedral basilica interiors and furnishings in which the exhibition was embedded, also fabrics were shown (among many from the tomb of the Mazovian princes, the clothing of Parzniewski), exhibit items rescued from the previous Diocese Museum, paintings borrowed from Warsaw museums; see ibidem, p. 1.

[40] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, appendix 15: Stefan Kardynał Wyszyński Prymas Polski, Otwarcie Wystawy Millenijnej pt. “Archidiecezja Warszawska w Tysiącleciu Chrztu Polski”, Warszawa, kościół św. Krzyża 23.VI. Roku Millenijnego 1966 (godz. 16.30), p. 109.

[41] Ibidem.

[42] Ibidem, p. 110.

[43] Ibidem.

[44] Ibidem, pp. 110–111.

[45] “On 18 April 1969 the Primate Council for the Reconstruction of Churches changed its name to the Primate Council for the Construction of Churches, and, on this occasion, the Primate said: ‘The need to build churches is obvious. The Church authorities do everything in their power to start this process. We need to rush towards heaven since God is the one who can open the doors for such an urgent matter, a social matter – ensuring the congregation a place for a joint prayer’. Finally, at the beginning of the 1970s, the militant propaganda of atheism faded away. [...] The first permits to commence the construction of churches were issued and the design stage gained momentum”; Grabowski (fn. 13).

[46] AIPW, inv. 757, Sacrum Poloniae… 1966 (fn. 2), vol. II, appendix 15: Stefan Kardynał Wyszyński Prymas Polski, Otwarcie Wystawy Millenijnej pt. “Archidiecezja Warszawska w Tysiącleciu Chrztu Polski”, Warszawa, kościół św. Krzyża 23.VI. Roku Millenijnego 1966 (godz. 16.30), p. 110.

The full text of the article was published in the pages of "Sacrum et Decorum" . Please send your orders to the University of Rzeszów Publishers or activate an electronic subscription.