A FREEDOM WITHIN: The Prison Notes of Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski by Stefan Wyszynski

A FREEDOM WITHIN: The Prison Notes of Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski

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Dignified, but undramatic and much too long: the story of the Polish Primate's three years (1953-56) in prison--actually more like house arrest. These notes are only a fragment of a 20-volume memoir, which is supposedly being withheld from publication until the next century because of its ""explosive"" revelations. Here, there's nothing of the sort. Wyszynski was taken from his home in Warsaw in the middle of the night, and held for the next 37 months without trial or formal indictment in various places around the country (along with two fellow-captives, a priest and a nun). He was neither tortured nor mistreated, but his only communication with the outside world was some heavily censored mail. He spent the time reading, writing, meditating, and occasionally protesting his illegal detention to the low-level Party hacks he had access to. He was finally released on orders of Gomulka, who had just come to power. Wyszynski fills many of these pages with pious reflections, warm and sincere but utterly conventional. (""Thank You, Father, for my patron Saint Stephen, whom I received at baptism. Perhaps I besmirched his name, made famous by his martyr's blood?"") He also inserts family correspondence, most of it both fiat and oddly formal. (""I would not want, my dearest father, this Holy Season [Advent] to pass without a sign of my filial devotion and respect."") Wyszynski signs all his letters, even the most intimate, with his full name and title. This strong sense of his hierarchical position undoubtedly gave him the serene self-possession he displays toward his captors, but it also helps to make this the Edifying Journal of a public man, instead of a spontaneous slice of life.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1983
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich