It is with a great grief that the Pilgrims of St. Michael learnt of the death of Bishop Zbigniew Josef Kraszewski of Poland, on April 4, 2004, at the age of 82. He was Vicar General of the Diocese of Warsaw-Prague, parish priest of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Warsaw, near the Our Lady Victorious co-cathedral. From 1970 to 1992, he was Auxiliary Bishop of Warsaw, under the great Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. On May 1st, a Mass was celebrated at the chapel of the House of St. Michael in Rougemont for the repose of the soul of this great servant of God and of His Blessed Mother.
In August, 1976, we were happily surprised to receive a letter from Bishop Kraszewski of Warsaw, who was, at that time, passing through Hamilton, Ontario. With his letter, he sent us the translation into French of the sublime “Thoughts on the Rosary” received by a privileged soul, Barbara Klossowna. He asked us to publish them, to make as many souls as possible benefit from them.
Bishop Kraszewski added in his letter to our Directress: “In Poland, we hold you in high esteem, as well as your literary works and your precious journals.”
In her reply, our Directress, Mrs. Côté-Mercier, said that these “Thoughts on the Rosary” were like a general survey on the Rosary. Assenting to his request, she published in “Michael” and “Vers Demain” a large part of these “Thoughts on the Rosary”, for the edification of our readers. She also made a four-page offprint that we diffused by the millions throughout the world. This contributed to making Poland known to the readers of our journals and offprints all over the world.
We were therefore overjoyed when we learned of the election of a Polish Pope on October 16, 1978, the feast of St. Michael of Mont Saint-Michel, in France.
Our beloved founder, Louis Even, who died in 1974, followed with much interest, in the Vatican weekly L'Osservatore Romano, and other magazines, the heroic interventions of the great Cardinal Wyszynski and other Polish Bishops against the Communist system. Mr. Even also told us that he hoped, one day, to see one of these Polish Bishops sit on the throne of St. Peter. He saw his hope fulfilled from Heaven, four years after his death.
Being surprised to learn that our journal was held in high esteem in Poland, we checked on our subscribers' list, to know who was the person who was reading us in Poland, behind the Iron Curtain. We discovered this person was Cardinal Wyszynski himself. So, no wonder his Auxiliary Bishop also read our journal, and appreciated it.
In a letter dated February 28, 1979, Mrs. Côté-Mercier asked Bishop Kraszewski if he knew a Bishop who could hand personally to the Holy Father and to Cardinal Wyszynski the book of Louis Even, “In This Age of Plenty”.
On April 20, 1979, we received this reply from Bishop Krsaszewski: “I am pleased to tell you that I will myself hand your books over to the Holy Father and to His Eminence Cardinal Wyszynski...”
On the occasion of the first visit of Pope John Paul II in Poland, on June 2, 1979, Bishop Kraszewski did hand copies of Louis Even's book “In This Age of Plenty” to the Sovereign Pontiff and to the Cardinal. Of course, a third copy of Louis Even's book was destined to Bishop Kraszewski himself.
On May 1-8, 1979, our friends in Poland organized a one-week Congress of the Rosary, at the national shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, in order to obtain the favour that the Communists would allow the Holy Father to visit his homeland, which at first was refused by the Polish authorities. On the Thursday of their week of prayer, our Polish friends learnt that the Holy Father had obtained his visa to go to Poland. They named that week of prayer the “Siege of Jericho”. They even invited us to go to Poland on that occasion, to take part in this week of non-stop prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance. Being not able to attend it, Mrs. Côté-Mercier gave us, on April 22, in Rougemont, a sublime speech about the Holy Father and Sister Faustina Kowalska (the messenger of the devotion to Divine Mercy), which was made especially for the Poles. We recorded it, and sent the tape to Bishop Kraszewski, so they could listen to it during their Congress of the Rosary in Czestochowa.
Afterwards, we decided to hold “Sieges of Jericho” in union with the Poles, to support the Pope and to obtain great favours for the world. One knows that in the Old Testament, the walls of the city of Jericho fell thanks to the power of God.
In 1987, coming back from Rome, Bishop Kraszewski wrote to us, in a reply to our letter that informed him about a “Siege of Jericho” held in Ghana, Africa, and in Rougemont, Canada:
“I am delighted to receive the fantastic report of the ‘Siege of Jericho’ held at Christ the King Church in Accra, Ghana, West Africa, on August 9-16. I am very happy to learn that Father Cyprian Kubic and Mr. Anatol Kaszuck are at your place in Canada and took part in your ‘Siege of Jericho’, Sept. 27-Oct. 4.
“Our great strength is always in the Marian prayer, the Rosary! The Marian Year gives all Christians the possibility to pray to the Victorious Queen, ‘Maria Vincit’. It is my motto on my coat of arms of Bishop. I am certain this motto will come true. Truly yours in the powerful Victorious Queen, Z.J. Kraszewski, Bishop.”
|Our Lady Victorious Co-cathedral of Warsaw|
The Queen obtained indeed the victory. On July 11, 1989, we wrote to Bishop Kraszewski:
“The Pilgrims of St. Michael of Canada are thrilled about the happy events that are presently taking place in Poland. It is the triumph of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen that is victorious in every battle.
“In union with their friends in Poland, one of the petitions of the Pilgrims of St. Michael during their ‘Siege of Jericho’ last March was the liberation of prisoners in concentration camps. A few days after this week of prayers, we learnt that the political prisoners in Poland were freed. What a victory of Heaven! And here is an ever-greater victory: the phenomenal downfall of the Communist regime, and its replacement by Catholic forces, led by Lech Walesa.”
In 1993, Bishop Kraszewski published in Polish Louis Even's book, “In This Age of Plenty”. He told us about it in a letter dated April 9 of that year. We replied to him: “Today, April 19, the day after the beatification of Sister Faustina, we receive your kind letter confirming your decision to publish the book “In This Age of Plenty” in Polish, and we are really thrilled.
“Is it not providential that this book is published by a Bishop whose motto is “Mary victiorious” (in Latin, “Maria vincit”)? By granting a just and sound financial system to Poland, Our Lady will achieve the complete victory over Communism.
“We will have another ‘Siege of Jericho’ September 24-October 2, and we want to assure you that our first petition will be “the complete liberation of Poland from the financial dictatorship.” Your country deserves this honour, since it suffered so much from the oppression of the enemy for over 50 years.”
Here is the preface Bishop Kraszewski wrote for the Polish edition of “In This Age of Plenty”, “Pod znakiem obfitosci”:
“What Catholics learnt in the social doctrine of the Church is the way between socialism and capitalism. For many years, this doctrine has been diffused in Canada, and known as the Social Credit theory. Louis Even's book, In This Age of Plenty, that I now introduce to the Polish readers, is an exposition of the Catholic social doctrine that is good not only for the Canadians; this book contains a lot of instructive topics for any person who reads it and who is open to social problems. This book has not been written only for great theoreticians and scholars, but for everybody. That is why this book is precious to the Poles, especially at the time of the second miracle of the Vistula River that we are presently experiencing. (The miracle of the downfall of Communism.) Poland miraculously succeeded in gaining its freedom and sovereignty. After the devastation of Communism that had been keeping us captive for so many years, we have the duty to choose the right path of social justice, based on Catholic doctrine. I think this book will largely help in achieving that.
“I entrust all the readers to the protection of Our Lady Victorious, who reigns in the co-cathedral of Kamionku, in Warsaw.”
On June 12, 1994, Bishop Kraszewski wrote to us: “I am very happy to learn that you are pleased with the translation into Polish — and its publication — of Louis Even's book ‘In This Age of Plenty’. I have received the blessing of Pope John Paul II for this book.”
On February 15, 1996, Bishop Kraszewski wrote to us: “I think that the book In This Age of Plenty will be the instrument to free nations from famine.”
How grateful we are to this venerable Bishop for his help, his encouragements and his blessings, repeated so often. The Victorious Queen has certainly kept a place for him beside Her, to allow him to continue to love Her, glorify Her, and serve Her for ever.