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John Paul II Beatifies Marian Martyrs, Blesses Shrine

Pope John Paul II blessed a Marian shrine and beatified two Marian martyrs during his 13-day visit to Poland in June of 1999. The Holy Father also spent two nights at the Marians' monastery in Lichen, Poland.

The Holy Father and his attendants arrived in Lichen on June 6 and stayed overnight on June 6 and 7. On June 7, he blessed the Shrine of Our Lady of Lichen, Sorrowful Queen of Poland.

During the dedication ceremony, he praised the Marians for their work, building what will be the largest church in all of Poland. "I give thanks to Divine Providence that this Shrine figures as part of my pilgrim journey in our homeland. I am thankful for being able to meet you on this beautiful and picturesque hill, amid fields and woods, to bless this new church in honor of the Mother of God."I look with admiration upon this large building, which in its architectural richness is an expression of faith and love for Mary and her Son. Let us give thanks to God for this church! Gratitude is due also to the guardians of this Shrine, the Marian Fathers, who for years have taken care of it and have faithfully served the pilgrims. In fact, it is their initiative that led to the building of this church."

It was the first time in the more than 325-year history of the Congregation that a Pope has stayed at one of their houses.

History was also made on June 13, in Warsaw, when the Holy Father beatified two Marian martyrs among 108 men and women raised to the honors of altar that day. The Marian martyrs, Blessed George Kaszyra and Blessed Anthony Leszczewicz, were executed in February of 1943 by the Nazis in Rosica, Belarus. The country was then part of the Soviet Union and had been occupied by the Nazis.

The Nazis rounded up 1,500 local people they suspected of being Soviet sympathizers and held them in the local Catholic church. The two Marian priests were given the option of leaving, but they decided to remain with their flock to the end. The Nazis led the hostages out in groups – including the two priests – and burned them to death in homes they had slated for destruction. The Marians' courageous stand sealed their martyrdom.

May the example of these two Marian martyrs inspire us to remain faithful to the Lord!


Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Anthony Leszczewicz and Blessed George Kaszyra

Almighty and Eternal God, You granted the grace of martyrdom to Your blessed servants, Anthony and George, who at the moment of danger to their lives showed a spirit of love and pastoral zeal by accepting death with their brothers and sisters. Through their intercession, grant us the grace of strength and love, that our daily service to others may build up the Church and lead us to the eternal joy of Your saints. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

with ecclesiastical approval


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