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Diocese of Wladislaw

The historical origin of this diocese is not known precisely

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Wladislaw (Polish Wloclawek), Diocese of (VLADISLAVIENSIS ET POMERANLE)., the historical origin of this diocese is not known precisely. The city of Wladislaw, or Wloclawek, in the government of War-saw, contains more than 40,000 Catholics. The old Polish historians follow John Dlugosz, the fifteenth-century annalist, who narrates that Mieczyslaw, the first Polish king (962-92), after receiving baptism in 966, founded the two Archbishoprics of Gnesen and Cracow, and seven dioceses, among which was Kruszwica, or Wloclawek. But as Dlugosz cites no historical document to prove his statement, no confidence can be placed in it. Bogufal, or Boguchwal, Bishop of Posen (d. 1253), another Polish chronicler, attributed the foundation of this diocese to Mieczyslaw II (1025-34), but again without documentary support for his statement. Julian Bartoszewicz, another Polish writer (“Encyklopedya Powszechna”, Warsaw, 1860, III, 636), taking a Bull of Eugene III as his authority, places the foundation as far back as 1148; but this very Bull contradicts the assertion by mentioning the diocese as already existing in 1123, placing it under the special protection of the Holy See. Other historians attribute its foundation to Boleslaus the Brave (Chrobry) (922-1025); others again to Boleslaus the Bold (Smialy) (1058-80). This last opinion seems improbable, as the letter of Gregory VII to Boleslaus the Bold, dated April 20, 1075, not only does not mention the Diocese of Kruszwica or of Wloclawek, but deplores the scarcity of bishops in the Kingdom of Poland (see Bielowski, “Mon. Poloniae hist.”, III, Lemberg, 1864, pp. 367-71). The only conclusion, therefore, by the light of historical documents, is that the Diocese of Wloclawek dates from the earlier half of the twelfth century. (See Fijalek, “Ustalenie chronologii biskupow wloclawskich”, Cracow, 1894, pp. 7, 8.)

According to Dlugosz the first episcopal see of the Diocese of Wloclawek was at Kruszwica, a city in the territory of Kujawa. Under Bishop Onoldus (1161-80) the see was transferred to Wloclawek. But this notice, passed over by other historians (see Rzepnicki, op. cit. in bibliography, II, 1, 2), is contradicted by a Bull of Eugene III, dated from Reims, April 4, 1148, “Venerabili fratri Warnero, Vlotislaviensi episcopo” (Rzyszczewski”, Cod. dipl. Poloniae”, II, pt. I, Warsaw, 1848, pp. 1-4). This Bull mentions that Aegidius, Bishop of Tusculum, afterwards cardinal legate in Poland under Callistus II (probably in 1123), determined the boundaries of the Diocese of Wloclawek, which must, therefore, have existed in the first quarter of the twelfth century. On the other hand, historical documents are lacking to show clearly whether Kruszwica ever had a bishop. Chodynski supposes that it may have been the seat of a parish priest invested with the episcopal dignity. But, as has already been pointed out, there are no positive data to establish this hypothesis.

In its historical beginnings the Diocese of Wloclawek comprised the whole territory of Kujawia (Ziemia Kujawska) divided into the two palatinates of Inowroclaw and Brest. Subsequently, the territory extending from the left bank of the Vistula, and from the River Notec, to the Baltic was added. This added territory is called, in Polish, Pomerania; in German, Pommerella. Under Bishop Mathias Lubienski its territory was increased by the villages of Ciechocin, Dobrzejewice, Chelmica, Zaduszniki, Nowogrod, and Zlotoria, taken from the jurisdiction of Plock. This cession was confirmed by Urban VIII in 1640. In 1764 Bishop Antonius Ostrowski obtained from the Archbishop of Gnesen the city of Wolborz with adjacent villages and the church of the Franciscans at Smarzewice, an arrangement confirmed by the Holy See on August 13 of the same year. Kujawia was divided into two archdeaconries; Kruszwica and Wloclawek, while Pomerania, after the thirteenth century, formed a separate archdeaconry. These three archdeaconries existed until the first partition of Poland. According to an historical document of 1326 cited by Theiner (Mon. hist. Pol., I, 268), the archdeaconry of Kruszwica comprised 22 parishes; that of Wloclawek, 30; that of Pomerania, 9. In 1577 there were 118 churches in Kujawia; in 1633 there were 123, and 149 in Pomerania. In 1769 the diocese, harassed by wars and Protestantism, counted only 242; and in the same year there were 160,988 Catholic families.

In 1818 the Diocese of Wloclawek underwent a complete change of boundaries, pursuant to the Bull “Ex imposita nobis” of Pius VII. All Pomerania, with the cities of Kruszwica, Strzelno, Bydgoszcz, and Inowroclaw, passed under the dominion of Prussia. The new diocese took the name of Wloclawek and Kalisz (Vladislaviensis seu Calissiensis). Of its 344 churches only 59 belonged to the old diocese, the rest being taken from the Dioceses of Posen, Plock, Cracow, Breslau, and Gnesen. In 1912 the Diocese of Wloclawek and Kalisz comprised 13 deaneries (Wloclawek, Nieszawa, Kalisz, Kolo, Konin, Sieradz, Slupca, Turek, Wielun, Piotrkow, Czenstochowa, Lask, Radomsk), with 352 parish or subsidiary churches. The total number of churches was 511, of which 286 were of stone and 125 of wood; the chapels numbered 176, of which 114 were of stone. The Catholic population was 1,461,147. The most important centers were Wloclawek, with 40,500 souls; Brest (Brzesc), famous for the councils held there, out of which grew the Ruthenian Uniat Church, 6000 Catholics; Sluzewo, 8500 Catholics; Kalisz, 22,000; Konin, 7200; Sieradz, 9600; Szadek, 7000; Zagorow, 8306; Turek, 11,100; Wielun, 7123; Piotrkow, 30,000; Czenstochowa, 70,000; Klobucko, 14,000; Truskolasy, 10,764; Pabjanice, 15,000; Radomsk, 20,514.

The first Bishop of Kruszwica—which was the first episcopal see of the Diocese of Wloclawek according to Dlugosz—was Ludicus, who died in 993. Between 993 and 1133 the old Polish historians give the names of eight bishops: Maurice, or Lawrence, Marcellus, Venantius, Andreas, John Baptist, Paulinus, Baldwin, and Suidger. But this list is apocryphal and at most, according to Chodyneski, gives the names of the parish priests of Kruszwica or of the superiors of a monastery which existed there. The first Bishop of Wloclawek, whose name occurs in the Bull of Eugene III of 1148, is Warner. He was succeeded by Onoldus, an Italian by birth (1161-80). According to Chodynski’s list, Onoldus was followed by two bishops, Rudgerus (d. 1170) and Wunelphus, or Wunulphus, or Onolphus (d. 1187). These two are omitted in Fijalek’s list, and his authority is of greater historical value than Chodynski’s. From 1187 to 1198 one Stephen, a German by birth, according to Rzepnicki, is called episcopus Cuiaviensis. Then followed Ogerius, an Italian (1207-12); Bartha, a Roman (1215-20), who took part in the Synod of Woborz (1215); Michael, a Pole (1222-52), who restored the archdeaconry of Kruszwica, suppressed by Ogerius; Wolmir (1252-75); Adalbertus, Alberus, or Alber (1275-83); Wislaw (1284-1300); Gerward (1300-23), who had to contend with the efforts of the Prussian Knights of the Cross to wrest some of his territory from him; Mathias Golanczewski (1323-68), who abdicated in 1364; Zbilut Golanczweski (1364-83); Teodryk (1383-84); John, Prince of Opolis (1384-89; 1402-21); Henry, Prince of Lignica (1389-98); Nicholas of Curow (1399-1402); John Pella of Niewiesz (1421-28); John Szafraniec (1428-33), chancellor of the Kingdom of Poland; Ladislaus of Oporowa (1433-49); Nicholas Lasocki (1449-50), who died at Terni returning from Rome, whither he had gone as ambassador for Casimir Jagiellonczyk (1447-92); John Gruszczynski (1449-63), chancellor of the kingdom; John Lutka (1463-64); James of Siena (1464-73); Zbigniew of Olesnica (1473-80); Andrew of Oporowa (1481-83); Peter Moszynski (1484-94); Creslao (Krzeslau) of Kurozwenk (1494-1503), chancellor of the kingdom; Vincentius Przerenbski (1503-13); Mathias of Drzewice (1513-31); John Karnowski (1531-38); Lucas of Gorka (1538-42); Nicholas Dzierzgowski (1543-46); Andreas Zebrzydowski (1546-51); John Drohojowski (1551-57); James Uchanski (1557-61); Nicholas Wolski (1562-67); Stanislaus Karnkowski (1567-81), who published the documents of the provincial Synod of Gnesen (1578); Jerome Rozdrazewski (1581-1600), who died at Rome in the odor of sanctity; John Tarnowski (1600-03); Peter Tylicki (1604-07); Adalbert Baranowski (1607-08); Mathias Petrokowski (1608-09); Lawrence Gembicki (1609-15); Paul Wolucki (1616-22); Andreas Lipski (1623-31); Mathias Lubienski (1631-41); Nicholas Gniewosz (1642-54); Florian Czartoryski (1654-74); John Gembicki (1674-75); Stanislaus Sarnowski (1677-80); Bonaventure Modalinski (1681-91); Stanislaus Dambski (1691-99); Stanislaus Szembek (1699-1706); Felician Szanawski (1707-20); Christopher Szembek (1720-38); Adam Grabowski (1738-41); Valens Czapski (1741-51); Antonius Dembowski (1752-62); Antonius Ostrowski (1762-66); Joseph Rybinski (1777-1806). On the death of Rybinski the See of Wloclawek remained vacant for nine years. Francis Malczewski was bishop from 1815 to 1818. In 1819 the Diocese of Wloclawek, with new boundaries determined by the Bull “Ex imposita nobis”, received as its bishop Andrew Wollowicz (1819-22), who was succeeded by Joseph Stephen Kozmian (1823-31). The see then remained vacant until 1837, when Valentine Tomazewski was elected bishop (1837-50). He was followed by Nicholas Blocki (d. 1851); John Michael Marzewski (1856-57); Vincent Popiel (1867-83) Alexander Beresniewicz (1883-1902); Stanislaus Casimir Zdzitowiecki.

The see also had suffragan bishops; the first of whom there is any mention was Ubricus, suffragan of John, Prince of Opole (1402-21). Kreslaus of Kurozwenk obtained an edict in virtue of which the abbots of the Cistercian Monastery of Koronow had the dignity of suffragan bishops of their dioceses; but the decree was not obeyed. Mathias Drjewicki had the canon Alexander of Miszin consecrated as his suffragan bishop in 1515, with the title of Bishop of Margarita. Bishop Karnowski endeavored, by means of a capitular constitution, to obtain that the suffragan bishops of his diocese should be elected from among the prelates and canons of Wloclawek. Bishop Ostrowski obtained from the Holy See a new suffragan bishop for Pomerania, but this suffragan see had only three incumbents: Cyprian Wolicki, Mathias Garnysz, and Ludovicus Gorski.

The religious orders were widely diffused in the Diocese of Wloclawek. In 1173 there arose in Pomerania the famous Cistercian monastery of Oliwa, and in 1251 the no less famous Abbey of Peplin. The Dominicans had monasteries at Dirschau and Brest; the Carmelites at Zakrzew, Marcowice, and Bydgoszcz; the Franciscans at Inowroclaw and Nieszawa. Other orders flourished in the various cities and villages of the diocese—Paulines (Reformed), Fatebenefratelli (or Order of St. John of God), Jesuits, Piarists, Lazarists. Among the communities of women the most ancient are those of the Premonstratensian Nuns of Zukow, founded in 1210, and the Benedictine Nuns of Zarnowiec, founded in 1213. The convents are now nearly all extinct; the diocese, however, possesses the historic convent of Czenstochowa founded in 1382 and occupied by a community of Paulines, or Hermits of St. Paul. In this convent is a highly venerated icon of the Blessed Virgin, visited every year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. Czenstochowa is the national sanctuary of Poland. The Franciscans still possess monasteries at Kolo, founded in 1456, and at Wloclawek, founded in 1524; the Franciscan Sisters have a monastery at Wielun founded in 1682; the Dominican Sisters, one at Przyrow, founded in 1626. The Sisters of Charity were established at Czenstochowa, Kalisz, Konin, Piotrkow, Sieradz, Wielun, Turek, and Wloclawek. According to official statistics, the number of regulars in the diocese is 37; the number of religious women, 24, besides 55 Sisters of Charity. The present cathedral of Wloclawek was begun in 1340 and completed in 1411. It was extremely wealthy and at the end of the sixteenth century there were 100 clergy attached to it. The Divine offices were celebrated in it uninterruptedly, day and night. The cathedral chapter included eight prelates. At the beginning of the sixteenth century it was established that no one who did not possess a title of nobility could become a canon. Pius IX, in 1862, granted the canons of this cathedral the right to wear the violet mozzetta. The chapter now consists of four prelates and eight canons. At Kalisz there is also an ancient collegiate church to which three prelates and four canons are now attached. The diocese is divided into three general consistories: at Wloclawek, Kalisz, and Piotrkow.

The number of secular priests is 538. The diocesan seminary, founded in 1568 by Bishop Karnkowski, is in a very flourishing condition. The education of the seminarists was in 1719 entrusted to the Lazarists, who continued in the charge until 1864. There are 102 seminarists. In 1910 the professors of the seminary began the publication of a splendid monthly review, “Ateneum kaplanski”, which, for solidity of learning and wealth of theological and religious contents, holds the first place in the Catholic Press of Poland. The ancient Diocese of Wloclawek had much to suffer from Hussitism, and afterwards from Lutheranism. The negligence of Bishops Zebrzydowski, Drohiowski, and Uchanski contributed to the diffusion of the latter heresy. Pomerania was almost entirely lost to Catholicism. Numerous synods were convoked in the Diocese of Wloclawek. Chodynski mentions the acts and decrees of forty-six synodi vladislavienses, of which he publishes a large number. The first of these synods was held in 1227 and the last in 1641.


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