Catholic Church in Poland

Primary Sources

The Pledge of Jasna Góra

Description

This text was written by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in 1956 and used that year for a ceremony at the Marian shrine of Jasna Góra in the town of Częstochowa. Promoted heavily by the Polish Episcopate, the pledge became a mainstay of organized pilgrimages and remains popular to this day. Częstochowa was the site of a famous battle in 1655, when an invading Swedish (Protestant) army besieged the monastery of Jasna Góra but was repulsed (so the story goes) by the intervention of the Virgin Mary. In 1656 King Jan Kazimierz of Poland pledged his country in fealty to Mary in gratitude for her assistance, staging an elaborate ceremony in which she was crowned as "Queen of Poland." Three hundred years later Primate Stefan Wyszyński celebrated the anniversary of this coronation with this updated "Pledge of Jasna Góra," and in the years to come this text became a key element of Catholic devotional practice in Poland. Though cast in the form of a prayer, the political content of this text is evident. This text also seeks to clarify the specific goals and ambitions of the Polish Catholic Church. To American eyes, this document might present a set of anomalies: a commitment to social justice, peace, and equity alongside a cultural agenda that condemns divorce, abortion, and "promiscuity." This helps sheds light on what exactly divided Catholics and communists: not so much the social policies of an interventionist state, but rather the failure of that state to uphold what Cardinal Wyszyński considered to be traditional Catholic values.

To see the associated Teaching Module on the Catholic Church in Poland, click here.

Source

Stefan Wyszyński, "The Pledge of Jasna Góra." Reproduced with permission.

Primary Source— Excerpt

O Great Mother of God and Man! The Virgin who gave birth to God, Mary who was praised by God! The Queen of the world and the Queen of Poland!

Since three centuries have passed since that joyous day when you became Queen of Poland, we, the Children of the Polish nation and your children, of the same bloodline as our Ancestors, stand once again before You, full of those same feelings of love, faithfulness, and hope that once enlivened our Fathers. We, the Polish Bishops and the Royal clergy, a People saved by the saving Blood of Your Son, come, Mary, again to Your Throne, O great Mediator of Grace, Mother of Mercy and of all consolation. We bring to Your immaculate feet all the centuries of our faithfulness to God and the Church of Christ, the centuries of faithfulness to the lofty mission of the Nation, washed in the water of holy Baptism. We place at Your feet ourselves and everything that we have: our families, houses of worship, homes, fields and workplaces, plows, hammers and pens, all of our efforts, our beating hearts and our bursts of will. We stand before You full of gratitude that You have been our Virgin of Assistance at times of glory and at the many times of disaster. We stand before You full of repentance, with a sense of guilt for not yet fulfilling the pledges and promises of our Fathers. Look upon us, O Kind Lady, with the eye of Your Mercy, and hear the mighty voices which go out to You in a harmonious chorus from the depths of the hearts of many millions of those from the People of God who have been given over to You.

O Queen of Poland! We renew today the pledge of our Ancestors to You as our Patron and we recognize You as the Queen of the Polish Nation. Both ourselves and all the Polish lands and all the People we commend to Your special protection and defense. We humbly call for Your help and mercy in the struggle to remain faithful to God, the Cross and the Gospels, the holy Church and its Shepherds, our holy Fatherland which is the advanced guard of Christianity dedicated to Your Immaculate Heart and the Heart of Your Son. Remember, Virgin Mother, when in the presence of God, the nation that was given to You, which wants to remain Your Kingdom, under the protection of the Greatest Father of all the nations of earth. We promise to do everything in our power so that Poland will be truly Your Kingdom and Your Son's Kingdom, given over entirely to Your rule in our personal, family, national, and social lives.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Mother of Divine Grace! We pledge to you to protect the gift of grace, which is the source of Divine Life, in every Polish heart. We hope that every one of us will live in sanctifying grace and be a temple of God, that the entire Nation will live without mortal sin, and that it will become a House of God and a Gate of Heaven for the generations passing across the Polish lands, under the leadership of the Catholic Church, to the eternal Fatherland.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Holy Mother of God and Mother of Good Advice! We pledge to You, with eyes focused on the manger of Bethlehem, that henceforth we will all defend unborn life. We will fight to defend every child and every cradle as courageously as our Fathers fought for the existence and freedom of the Nation, paying with their own blood. We are ready to die rather than kill a single defenseless one. We consider the gift of life to be the greatest Grace of the Father of all Life, and as the most valuable treasure of the Nation.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Mother of Christ and House of Gold! We pledge to You to defend the permanence of marriage, to protect the dignity of women, to guard the domestic hearth so that within it the lives of Poles will be safe. We pledge to you to strengthen the reign of Your Son Jesus Christ in the family, to protect the honor of the Name of God, to implant in the hearts and minds of children the spirit of the Gospels and love towards You, to guard the laws of God and Christian and national traditions. We pledge to You to raise the young generations in faithfulness to Christ, to defend them against godlessness and depravity and surround them with watchful parental protection.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Mirror of Justice! Listening closely to the eternal longings of the Nation, we pledge to You to walk in the Light of Justice, in Christ our Lord. We promise to work hard so that in our Fatherland all children of the Nation will live in love and justice, in harmony and peace, so that among us there will be no hatred, violence, or exploitation. We promise to share among ourselves willingly the harvests of the earth and the fruits of labor, so under the common roof of our house there will be no hunger, no homelessness, no weeping.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Victorious Lady of Jasna Góra! We promise to fight under Your banner a most holy and most difficult struggle with our national defects. We promise to declare war on laziness and recklessness, wastefulness, drunkenness, and promiscuity. We promise to attain the virtues of faithfulness and conscientiousness, hard work and frugality, self denial and mutual respect, love and social justice.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

O Queen of Poland! We renew of the Pledge of our Fathers and promise that we will diligently strengthen and spread in our hearts and in the Polish Lands your honor and the worship of You, Mother of God, who is praised in so many of our houses of worship, particularly in Your capital of Jasna Góra. We give over to you in a particular act of love every Polish home and every Polish heart, so that we will never cease to speak of Your glory on any day, particularly on Your holydays. We pledge to walk in the path of Your virtue, Virgin Mother and Faithful Lady, and with Your help fulfill our pledges.

Response: Queen of Poland, we so pledge!

In fulfilling these pledges we see a living vote of the Nation, more precious to You than granite and bronze. Let them commit us to a worthy preparation of our hearts for the 1000 year anniversary of Polish Christianity. On the eve of the 1000 year anniversary of the Baptism of our Nation we want to remember that You first sang to the nation the hymn of liberation from slavery and sin; that You first stood in defense of the little children and those who hungered, and showed the world the Light of Justice, of Christ, and of our God. We want to remember that You are the Mother of our Way, Truth, and Life, that in Your Maternal Face we will most surely recognize Your Son, to whom you unfailingly point the way. Accept our pledge, strengthen it our hearts and place it before God in the One Holy Trinity. In Your hands we place our past and future, all our national and social life, the Church of Your Son and everything that is precious to us in God. Lead us through the land of Poland, which is given over to you, to the Gates of the Heavenly Fatherland. And at the threshold of the new life show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of Your womb. Amen.

How to Cite this Source

Stefan Wyszyński, "The Pledge of Jasna Góra," Making the History of 1989, Item #8, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/8 (accessed August 30 2014, 2:14 pm).

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