Treasures of the Church- Holy Sites

Cathedral of Warsaw

Saint John the Baptist, Warsaw’s Cathedral, whose first construction in wood, dates back to the XII century, is one of the oldest churches in the city. In the XV century, it was rebuilt in stone at the request of Duke Janusz I of Masovia. During the Second World War, it was destroyed by several fires and was rebuilt with its square tower in the original Gothic style of Masovia. Saint John the Baptist was originally a parish, and in 1798, it was designated as a Cathedral. Many important events took place inside the Cathedral, such as the coronation of Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1764, and the resolution of the Great Sejm (the Polish Parliament) of the Constitution in 1791.

In the interior, it holds objects of sacred art, among which the baroque choir stalls stand out, and the baptismal font of black marble is the original piece from 1632 made by Petrus Noire Gallus. There are also epitaphs and tombstones which date back to the XVI-XVII centuries, among which are the tombstones of Stanislaw and Janusz, (Masovia’s last Dukes), Stanislaw Malachowski’s tombstone. The crypts beneath the main aisle hold the remains of numerous notable figures in the history of Poland.

In this place, one can also find the remains of Warsaw and Gniezno’s Archbishop, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who was also the Primate of Poland. He was associated with John Paul II. During the regime of Gierek, in 1976, both of them urged the workers and the government to work together towards a reconciliation, in the midst of riots and diverse political problems in Poland. At that time, Venerable John Paul II was the Archbishop of Krakow, then known as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Just like John Paul II, Cardinal Wyszynski was also devout to Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, and he firmly believed in the power of consecrating oneself to the Mother of God.

On September 25th, 1953, Cardinal Wyszynski was arrested because of his strong defense of the people’s rights and the Church’s rights against the communist government. After two years in prison, they confined him to house arrest. However, they had to be constantly changing his residence (monthly), because wherever he would go, Catholics would go and visit him, or they would stay praying near his house. In 1956, he was granted freedom. Whenever they would ask him to share any details of this difficult time in his life, he would simply answer: “I have entrusted everything to Mary, and I don’t want to remember the past. Let’s walk towards the future.” When John Paul II was elected to the Pontificate, Cardinal Wyszynski sent his congratulations, and the Pope responded with the following statement: “Without your sufferings, today a son of Poland would not be in the See of Peter.”

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