By John Waters
For many countries across the world November 11th marked Armistice Day that commemorates the end of the First World War. But in Poland, November 11th is also independence day and 2018 marked 100 years since Poland gained its independence from the German, Austrian and Russian Empires.
The Temple of Divine Providence
This year the Church in Poland gathered for a Solemn Mass at the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw to celebrate the centenary of the country’s independence. Construction of the massive temple began shortly after independence but had to be halted while Poland was under communist rule in the latter half of the twentieth century. Construction restarted after the fall of Communism in 1989. The temple was formally opened in 2016.
Letter from Pope Francis
A letter sent by Pope Francis the Polish church to celebrate the occasion was read out to the congregation by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki. In the letter the Pope said “Taking up the prayer of St. Pope John Paul II, a special witness of this century, I ask God to bestow the grace of faith, hope, and love on all Poles, so that they may make good use of unity and peace along with the precious gift of freedom.”
The Mass was celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio. Many of Poland’s bishops were present, along with the President of Poland Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda; Speakers of the Sejm and of the Senate, Marek Kuchciński and Stanisław Karczewski; and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Many other social and cultural events were planned to celebrate the day. At 12 noon local time, many churches rang their bells in a nationwide gesture of celebration.