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Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński is not well-known on this side of the Atlantic. But he is credited with saving the Church from the communists in post–World War II Poland almost singlehandedly, and, as Martina Moyski reports, he is on the path to sainthood.
Fr. James Altman: "When I go to Poland and I see Catholicism lived to its fullest, I see the grace wrought by his leadership sadly lacking in today's episcopacy."
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński is set for beatification Sept. 12 in the Church of Divine Providence in Warsaw. Born under an icon of the Black Madonna in 1901 in a village under Russian rule, he learned early to negotiate life dominated by foreign occupiers while never abandoning the Faith.
Fr. Darrell Roman, American priest of Polish descent: "If they only knew the wonderful person that he was: He had a great faith, a deep love for God, for Our Blessed Mother and for the Polish people."
As a young priest, he was targeted by Nazis for ministering to the wounded in the Warsaw Uprising. Under the Soviets, he witnessed fellow priests shipped to gulags or killed and came to see himself as a dead man walking. As cardinal, he defied a communist plot to appoint bishops in Poland, landing him in jail.
From his prison cell in 1956, he launched a nine-year novena urging Poles to resist the morality-shredding influence of the communists.
Fr. Roman: "He was that great pillar, the perfect person to bring the people together. His main goal was to have a moral renewal for the nation."
And he lived long enough to see a priest he mentored become the first Polish pope in 1979.
Many are seeing in Wyszyński a model for American prelates if the Church in the United States is to survive. Despite the cardinal's firm defense of the Church, he loved his enemies, even praying every day for Bolesław Bierut, the then-president of Poland responsible for jailing him.