Stanisława Kostki
Bartek z Polski, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

St Stanisław Kostka Church in Żoliborz: a modernist temple from the Vistula River

The Church of St Stanislaus Kostka in Warsaw, which is the focal point of the Żoliborz district, is an outstanding example of modernist sacred architecture. Located on Hozjusza Street, near Thomas Woodrow Wilson Square, the building plays an important role in the religious and social life of Warsaw’s residents.

The temple was built in the interwar period and its foundation was intended to refer to the 250th anniversary of the relief of Vienna. Construction began in 1930, preceded by drainage works to drain the area near the former channel of the Pólkówka stream. The church was designed by the architect Łukasz Wolski. During the defence of Warsaw in 1939, the church was damaged by artillery shells and aerial bombs. During the Warsaw Uprising, the basement of the unfinished church was used as an insurgent hospital. After the war, construction work resumed and a new design was drawn up by Edgar Alexander Norwerth. on 7 September 1963, the church was consecrated by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński.

1936 – construction. Source: Polona National Digital Library

The Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Warsaw is a monumental two-towered church built in the modernist style with neo-Romanesque elements. The intention of the architect designing the building was to try to combine in the construction of the church contemporary architecture with the forms of the tradition of early Christian basilicas. The interior of the church has three naves, with two large chapels – the Virgin Mary and the Heart of Jesus. There is an enclosure around the presbytery and a canopy over the main altar. The interior decoration forms a coherent whole and in its composition refers to the motto “God and Homeland”. The walls of the naves of the church are filled with many commemorative plaques. The stained glass windows in the presbytery briefly present the history of Poland and the Catholic Church in Poland, while the nave is decorated with banners symbolising the history of the struggle for the independence of the Polish state.

Stanisława Kostki
Adrian Grycuk, CC BY-SA 3.0 PL, via Wikimedia Commons

From 1974 to 1987 the parish priest was Father Teofil Bogucki, who was actively involved in opposition activities. Between 1980 and 1984 Father Jerzy Popieluszko celebrated monthly Masses for the Homeland here, which became patriotic manifestations attracting the faithful from all over Poland. After his death, on 3 November 1984, his solemn funeral took place here, gathering thousands of the faithful. In 1999-2001, St Stanislaus Kostka Church served as a jubilee church, and on 17 May 2000 a solemn mass was held here with the participation of the Polish Episcopate. In 2000, renovation works were carried out and the presbytery was rebuilt. The Archbishop of Warsaw, Kazimierz Nycz, raised the church to the rank of Diocesan Sanctuary of Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko.

Stanisława Kostki
Adrian Grycuk, CC BY-SA 3.0 PL, via Wikimedia Commons

Since 1984, the church has become a place of pilgrimage to the tomb of the blessed martyr. on 14 June 1987, the shrine was also visited by Pope John Paul II. In the basement of the church a museum dedicated to Father Jerzy was opened, with memorabilia and exhibits related to his life and martyrdom.


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