+ Stefan was born into an impoverished noble family in Zuzela in the Russian Empire (in what is now part of modern-day Poland). He was ordained a priest on his twenty-third birthday.
+ After celebrating his first solemn Mass of thanksgiving at the great Marian shrine of Czestochowa, he spent the next four years studying at the Catholic University of Lublin, after which he received doctorates in canon law and the social sciences.
+ After continuing studies in other parts of Europe, he returned to Poland, but his ministry was severely limited by the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939. A hunted man, he adopted the name “Radwan II” and became chaplain for the Polish underground. In this capacity, he helped to save several Jews from execution and he was subsequently forced to go into hiding.
+ After the war ended, he set out to help rebuild the seminary in Włocławek, but in 1946 he was named bishop of Lublin. In 1948, he was named archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw.
+ As archbishop—and later, cardinal—he opposed the Communist regime in Poland, helping to defend the rights of the Church. On 25 September 1953 he was imprisoned at Rywałd, and later placed under house arrest in Stoczek, in Prudnik, and in the Komańcza monastery in the Bieszczady Mountains. While imprisoned, he observed the brutal torture and mistreatment of the detainees; he was released in 1956.
+ For the remainder of his life, he was an advocate for justice, including the beginning of the “Solidarity” movement which helped Poland win its freedom from Communist rule in the 1980s.
+ Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński died of abdominal cancer on May 28, 1981, in Warsaw, and was beatified in 2021.
For prayer and reflection
“So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:6-7
O God, who wonderfully numbered among your holy shepherds blessed Stefan, a man aflame with divine charity and outstanding for that faith that overcomes the world, grant, we pray, that through his intercession we, too, persevering in faith and charity, may merit to be sharers of his glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For a Bishop)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.