St. Stanislaus in New Haven – a very active Polish ethnic parish with a magnificently preserved church. Since 2009 it has been home to the St. Gregory Society, the pioneers of the regular celebration of the Traditional mass – with complete ceremony and music – in this part of the world. I recently was fortunate to be granted the opportunity of taking pictures of the interior.
(Above) St. Stanislaus, founded in 1901, has been a Vincentian parish since 1904. The current church was dedicated in 1913.
A magnificent high altar – and an abundance of statuary. The old churches of the Germans, Poles and Slovaks so often have particularly rich and colorful appointments.
An elaborate program of paintings covers the entire interior. I am told these works were created over the years by two local artists who filled the church (and the rectory!) with an almost baroque superabundance of art.
(Above and below) The art of St. Stanislaus church celebrates not only the realm of the sacred but also the secular history of Poland. Here a king and queen of Poland responsible for the first union between Poland and Lithuania at the end of the 14th century. (Queen Jadwiga was canonized in 1997).
As one might expect,there is also magnificent stained glass.
Madonnas of Vilna, Lithuania (above) and of Poland(below). (When this church was built Vilna – now Vilnius – was considered a Polish town.)
In addition to the “standard” sacred topics so often found in the stained glass imported from Germany and Austria up to the 1930’s, the windows of this church also depict many unusual and specifically Polish subjects, including a number of Polish saints. Not all of these local patrons are ethnic Poles. Below, the martyr St. Josaphat with the vestments and pontifcals of a Greek bishop, including the trikir and crosier with serpents. He was Ukrainian but lived and died in the vast Polish-Lithuanian state of the early 17th century. Beside him stand St. John Cantius (patron of the well-known Traditional parish in Chicago).
The Roman Catholic Church currently may be embracing pacifism and praising the benefits of “secularism” and the separation of Church and state as currently practiced in the United States and Western Europe. Poles know better, living as they do in an exposed geographic situation open to attack by foes often rabidly hostile to the Catholic faith and having survived generations of repression from a variety of oppressors. For them, history clearly shows there is so often a duty to fight for one’s faith and country. And it was the ineradicable links between the Faith and the Polish nation that enabled Poland to survive apparently insuperable odds. Above, I believe this very unusual window shows St. Hedwig or Jadwiga (who wasn’t Polish) giving a blessing to her husband Henry the Pious before he rode out to meet death in battle at hands of the Mongols in 1242. Below, king Jan Sobieski receiving communion before one of his battles (perhaps Vienna in 1683)