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The Primate on the Feast of the Baptism of Poland: memory and gratitude call us to witness

“Memory and gratitude call us, baptized people, to witness” – said Archbishop Wojciech Polak on the 1058th anniversary of the baptism of Mieszko I and the National Baptism Day of Poland, emphasizing that it is a call to see everyone as a sister and brother, to demand life from conception to natural death and specific help to “save life, not destroy it.”

The Metropolitan of Gniezno celebrated Holy Mass. in the Baptist chapel in Ostrów Lednicki, which is indicated by historians as one of the potential places of baptism of the first historical ruler of Poland. It was there, next to Gniezno and Poznań, in 2016, when the 1050th anniversary was celebrated baptism of Polandthe main celebrations took place with the consecration of the Mieszko i Dobrawa bell, which rings during the most important church and state celebrations, and which began Sunday’s celebration at the baptismal sources of Poland.

“Gratitude and memory have brought us here today, to these places where Poland was born,” said Archbishop Polak in his homily, recalling the beginnings of Polish statehood and those who devoted their lives to studying them, professors: Labuda, Strzelczyk, Samsonowicz, Urbańczyk, and the deceased 2022 prof. Andrzej Wyrwa, archaeologist and director of the Museum of the First Piasts in Lednica. They all agreed that the baptism of Mieszko I “became the symbolic baptism of Poland, because from that moment, despite various difficulties, the Christian faith was slowly but surely established in our lands.”

“Through this, he began a blessed sequence of grace, light and power of God that continues to this day,” he quoted Blessed. Stefan Wyszyński, Primate, also recalling the call of St. John Paul II, so that we too “take into our own hands the entire legacy of the Fathers’ tradition to carry it further into the third millennium.”

“Baptism – reminded Archbishop Polak – is not a magical ritual or formal act. It is our incorporation into Jesus Christ and inclusion in the community of Christ’s Church, it is our life and commitment to witness. And only those who have personally experienced Him can bear witness to Jesus.

“Thanks to the process that begins with the baptism of each of us, we too can be witnesses of the Risen Jesus,” said the Archbishop of Gniezno, emphasizing that this means a certain kind of look that is “the first step against all indifference, the temptation to turn away our face in the face of difficulties and suffering. other people.”

“You need closeness, contact, sharing life. We need to notice and provide specific help. We need to stop, stop to look after the person in need of help, to save life, not destroy it. There are means and ways to do this today. All we need is our courage. We need opposition, but also closeness, help and support,” Archbishop Polak said.

The celebrations at Ostrów Lednicki, apart from prayers, also included a meeting with history. Everyone who visited the “island of rulers” that day had the opportunity to visit it with an archaeologist and listen to a lecture about the baptismal font of Poland.

“Mesco dux Poloniae baptizatur” or “Mieszko, Prince of Poland was baptized” – this is how this breakthrough moment was briefly described in the chronicle in 966. Historians are quite unanimous about the date. The location, however, has not been determined yet. Both Gniezno, Ostrów Lednicki and Poznań are recommended. This act initiated the process of Christianization of the then Polish state and at the same time included it in the family of Christian nations in Europe. Without this act – as experts on the subject agree – Poland would not be able to maintain itself as a sovereign state entity.

Only 34 years later, between March 7 and 15, 1000, Emperor Otto III arrived in Gniezno, an event remembered by history as the Congress of Gniezno. Its fruit was the creation of the first metropolis in Polish lands with its capital in Gniezno, guaranteeing the young Church’s autonomy and its dependence directly on Rome and strengthening the young Polish state.

The Polish Baptism Day was established by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland in 2019. It commemorates the event that laid the foundations of the Polish state and at the same time encourages gratitude, reflection and reflection on what each of us can do for the good of our homeland. The holiday – as it was written – should serve to inspire people to take action for the common good.

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