Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, a symbol of the Polish resistance to the Communist regime, was kidnapped and murdered by officers of the security service of the Ministry of Interior Affairs on October 19, 1984.
Jerzy Popiełuszko, born in 1947, became a supporter of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early nineteen eighties. In 1981, Jerzy Popiełuszko visited the workers protesting in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he became the unofficial chaplain of the Solidarity trade union and was associated with opposition to the Communist regime.
During Martial Law he served monthly Masses for the Homeland attended by tens of thousands of people and became a target for the security services.
On the evening of October 19, 1984, Father Popiełuszko was kidnapped by agents of the secret service of the Interior Affairs Ministry. The priest was beaten, tied up, and thrown into a car boot. With a sack of stones bound to his feet, he was dropped into the Vistula river near the town of Włocławek, northern Poland.
His body was found on October 30 and the news of his death caused a powerful wave of indignation in the country. His body was tortured to the extent that he could only be formally identified by his distinguishing features.
His Warsaw funeral on November 3, was attended by more than 250,000 people, including the Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa. His final resting place is near Saint Stanisław Kostka’s Church in Warsaw, where he used to celebrate his masses for the homeland.
Popiełuszko’s murderers, Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, Leszek Pękala, Waldemar Chmielewski and Colonel Adam Pietruszka, who made the order, were arrested yet released not long after as part of an amnesty.
On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the tragic death of Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, President Andrzej Duda commemorated him by laying a wreath by his grave in front of Stanisław Kostka Church in Warsaw.
The National Day of Remembrance for Steadfast Clergy, falling on October 19, was established last year.
Father Jerzy Popiełuszko was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church on June 6, 2010, in Warsaw.