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Rome Reports

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Exhibit remembers Polish martyr nearing canonization, killed 35 years ago


Beaten, mutilated and thrown into the Vistula river while still alive, all for speaking truth. This is what happened to Polish Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko by the Communist secret police in 1984, 35 years ago. 

A conference and exhibition in Rome is celebrating his life and pushing for his canonization, after he was beatified nearly 10 years ago. 

The Polish Ambassador to the Holy See said for Poles, his death is a symbol of Communism.

JANUSZ KOTANSKI
Polish Ambassador to the Holy See
“He was really a hero. He didn't hate anyone. He was giving his life even to those who persecuted him. That's why they tortured him and maybe he was still alive when they threw him into the Vistula River. Can you imagine? It was a tragedy for us, it was a personal tragedy for me, because I knew him personally.”

The ambassador says they were not extremely close, but due to the faithful Catholics in Poland, his name was known. 

JANUSZ KOTANSKI
Polish Ambassador to the Holy See
We were not close, I can't say we were friends or something like that. He was very shy, a very normal priest. But when he was talking, he was talking the truth without being afraid of the Communist regime.

The Polish priest's family was also at the opening of the exhibit, including his brother, sister-in-law and nephew, pictured in yellow on the wall. 

MAREK POPIELUSZKO
Fr. Jerzy's nephew
“Now I know every minute with Fr. Jerzy was important, but then it was just normal meetings with the uncle. I was 14 years old when he was killed, so I remember this time very well. 1:56 I spent lots of time at my grandparents house in Okopy, where Fr. Jerzy was born, and it's a place where Fr. Jerzy came for vacation to see the parents and to see the family.”

Now, they are waiting for him to be canonized after a miracle was confirmed in France at the cause of his intercession. 

Yet, it's obvious the Vatican is working on it, since Pope Francis even thanked the Polish in Rome for the exhibit for keeping alive the martyr's legacy.

POPE FRANCIS
I thank you for keeping the memory of this zealous priest and martyr who, brutally murdered by the communist police, gave his life for the love of Christ, of the Church and of men, especially those deprived of freedom and dignity.

The priest's memory is very much alive in Poland and throughout Europe, as many contribute his death and personal sacrifice to another reason for the eventual collapse of Communism. 

Melissa Butz