September 14, 1947 – October 19, 1984) was a Roman Catholic priest from Poland, associated with the Solidarity union. He was murdered by three agents of the Polish communist internal intelligence agency, the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, (English: Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) who were shortly thereafter tried and convicted of the murder. He has been recognized as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church, and was beatified on June 6, 2010.
Born in Okopy near Suchowola, Jerzy Popiełuszko was a charismatic priest who was first sent to strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the Communist regime in Poland.
He was a staunch anti-communist, and in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law, the Catholic Church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.
Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.
A car accident was set up to kill Jerzy Popiełuszko on October 13, 1984, but he escaped it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him, and it was carried out on October 19, 1984. The priest was beaten and murdered by three Security Police officers. Then, his body was dumped into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where it was recovered on October 30, 1984.
News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people, including Lech Wałęsa, attended his funeral on November 3, 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. Popiełuszko's murderers - Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pękala, Waldemar Chmielewski and Colonel Adam Pietruszka (responsible for giving them the order to kill) - were jailed but released later as part of an amnesty.
In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church started the process of his beatification and by 2008 he had Servant of God status. On December 19, 2009, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the decree of beatification of Father Popiełuszko. He was beatified on June 6, 2010 in Warsaw's Piłsudski Square. His mother, Marianna Popiełuszko, who had reached 100 years of age a few days earlier, was present at the event.
Propers for Jerzy Popiełuszko - 19 October - Priest and Martyr
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Jerzy Popiełuszko with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.
I ESDRAS saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel. What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.
The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.
BEHOLD, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall he brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.