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 the eve of the anniversary, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath at the priest’s grave in Warsaw.
He told reporters during the ceremony 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.
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.
Jerzy Popiełuszko (1947-1984). Photo: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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 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.