During the 11th Thanksgiving Day, a candle will be placed at the altar in the Church of the Divine Providence. The history of the candle is closely linked to the regaining of independence by Poland.
During the canonization celebrations of St. Josaphat Kuncewicz, called by Pope John Paul II the “Apostle of Reconciliation”, the candle was given to the Polish delegation first by Pope Pius IX, the Pope with the second longest papal reign following St. Peter the Apostle, 31 years.
It is worth remembering the life of Pope Pius IX. Our ancestors called him the Defensor Poloniae (defender of Poland). In fact, Pius IX was a great friend of Poles and an advocate of Poland’s return to the map of Europe. He prayed for Poland through the intercession of St. Stanislaus Kostka and Andrzej Bobola, whom he beatified and called the special guardian of Poland.
During the January Uprising, he maintained contacts with the National Government and sought support for the uprising among the European powers, while calling the Tsar to end the repression. During the period when Kulturkampf was run by Prussia, which in the Prussian partition was to eliminate the national identity of the Polish society, he defended the rights of the Church, defended the units, which were forced by the tsar to accept the Orthodoxy, opposed the Russification of church services, and he appointed the imprisoned Archbishop of Poznan Mieczyslaw Ledóchowski a cardinal, which forced the authorities to free the hierarch.
After the end of the canonization ceremonies of St. Josaphat, Pius IX gave this candle to Warsaw, expressing his wish that it would be lit only when Poland and its capital would be free. He said then:
TAKE THIS CANDLE TO THE POLISH COLLEGE, LET IT STAY THERE UNTIL THEY TAKE IT WITH THEM TO FREE WARSAW.
After 53 years from the day of canonization, in 1920, the Polish Primate Cardinal Edmund Dalbor and the Warsaw Metropolitan Archbishop Cardinal Aleksander Kakowski brought the historic candle from the Vatican to the Arch-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw, where it was lit during a solemn Eucharist by the highest representative of the power of reborn Poland, the Speaker of the Legislative Sejm Wojciech Trąmpczyński as a symbol of the Fatherland regaining its freedom!
The homily during this Mass was delivered by the Bishop of Przemyśl, Józef Pelczar, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
The Independence Candle was kept in the Warsaw Seminary during the German occupation and under communism, and since the 1980s it has been displayed in the showcase of the Seminary Church.
According to the decision of the Metropolitan of Warsaw Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, the candle on the 11th Thanksgiving Day will find its place in the Church of Divine Providence. During the liturgy, the Independence Candle will be lit by the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda, accompanied by the Speakers of the Sejm and Senate, the Primate of Poland and the President of the Episcopal Conference. The fire by which the candle will be lit will come from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The flame will be carried by the scouts on a pilgrimage with the relics of Saint Sister Faustyna.
The Candle of Independence will remain in the Church of the Divine Providence and will be lit only during the most important ceremonies.