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Jerzy Popiełuszko (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjɛʐɨ popʲɛˈwuʂkɔ] born Alfons Popiełuszko; 14 September 1947–19 October 1984[1]) was a Polish Roman Catholic priest who became associated with the opposition Solidarity trade union in communist Poland. He was murdered in 1984 by three agents of Służba Bezpieczeństwa (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), who were shortly thereafter tried and convicted of the murder.

He has been recognized as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church, and was beatified on 6 June 2010 by Archbishop Angelo Amato on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.[2] A miracle attributed to his intercession and required for his canonization is now under investigation.

Biography

Early life and priesthood

Popiełuszko was born on 14 September 1947 in Okopy near Suchowola. After finishing school, he attended the priests' seminary at Warsaw. He served his army duties in a special force, aimed at keeping young men from becoming priests. This treatment had no effect on Popiełuszko, as, after finishing his army service, he continued his studies. As a young priest he served in parishes in Warsaw, which consisted of the common people as well as students.[3] In 1981, Jerzy Popiełuszko joined the workers, taking part with strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the communist regime in Poland.

He was a staunch anti-communist and, in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law the Catholic Church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.

Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.

Assassination

The tomb of blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko