October 19 marked 35 years since Popiełuszko, a staunch supporter of Poland’s Solidarity freedom movement, was brutally murdered at the age of 37.
On Saturday, officials and coreligionists paid tribute to the slain churchman during commemorative ceremonies throughout the country.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki laid a wreath at the priest’s grave in the Polish capital.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki prays at the grave of Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko in Warsaw on Saturday. Photo: twitter.com/premierRP
The day's ceremonies culminated with a religious service at Warsaw's St. Stanislaus Church, where Popiełuszko once served as a priest. Those at the Mass prayed for him to be declared a saint.
On the eve of the anniversary, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told reporters that Popiełuszko was a key figure in modern Polish history and that his death three decades ago was a defining moment on his country’s road to freedom from communist oppression.
President Andrzej Duda lays a wreath at the grave of the Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko in Warsaw on Friday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Popiełuszko strongly supported Poland’s Solidarity trade union in the 1980s, serving as chaplain to workers at a Warsaw steel mill in 1980 and 1981.
During martial law, he celebrated monthly "Masses for the Homeland" that attracted tens of thousands of people.
In his homilies, he condemned violations of human rights and called for freedom and dignity of the working people.
On October 19, 1984, he was abducted, tortured and murdered by communist secret police officers. He has since been recognised as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church and was beatified on June 6, 2010.
Popiełuszko’s grave in Warsaw has drawn millions of pilgrims from Poland and beyond.
Jerzy Popiełuszko (1947-1984). Photo: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons