Archives of Weeks of Christian Culture / Artists’ Priesthood
The Weeks of Christian Culture and the Artists’ Priesthood were the very important cultural initiatives of the Polish Catholic Church, organised since the 1970s. They were the first nation-wide platform for artists of various professions, who were given a chance to speak freely and to show their works to the society – regardless of their beliefs. The participants had the opportunity to interact with independent culture, prohibited or absent from the official circulation. The collection includes both the documents on the initiatives’ history and the works of art created by its participants.
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Name of collection
- Weeks of Christian Culture / Artists' Priesthood
Provenance and cultural activities
The Weeks of Christian Culture (WCC) were an annual event held since 1975 in Warsaw and afterwards in whole Poland. They were cultural events, which presented the works of artists of various professions (writers, musicians, theatre and film actors, artists, sculptors, journalists). During the meetings, which took place in several churches in Warsaw, viewers had an opportunity to interact with independent culture, absent or prohibited by the official circulation.
The phenomenon of the annual WCC found its continuation in the Artists’ Priesthood (AP), formed in 1978 in Warsaw. AP was based on monthly meetings of artists, who, regardless of their world-view, in the Church found freedom from the control of the communist state.
From the very beginning this activity was not of strictly religious character – it presented a broader humanist perspective. The intention of their initiator, father Niewęgłowski, was to fill the gap created in the Polish culture after World War II. The programme of WCC and AP was aimed to create an independent image of culture, free from censorship, and reveal its Christian, national, historical and contemporary aspects. Such a broad perception of culture made the initiatives open to all creators. In this way writers, journalists, artists, musicians and actors had the opportunity to speak freely and to show their works to the society – regardless of their convictions.
The role of WCC and AP was consolidated during the martial law (1981-1983). AP had become a refuge for many persecuted people of culture who lost the opportunity to create. Churches and catechetical rooms were transformed into theatres, galleries, concert and lecture halls. WCC fulfilled not only the artistic goals, but had also educational, informational, as well as therapeutic functions. Additionally, due to the urgent needs, AP became a self-help organization that provided financial, material, legal and medical assistance to the creators deprived of their jobs and security.
Both institutions were created on the initiative of Fr. Wieslaw Alexander Niewęgłowski and are inseparable from this iconic figure.
Currently the archive is an unorganized set of materials. It needs some attendance, as its great potential is being wasted. Although the owner is open to the idea of presenting his archives, he has no budget or possibilities to do it. Unless the archive is taken care of, the memory of the origins of Weeks of Christian Culture and Artists Priesthood may be lost forever.
Description of content
The collection includes the documents created in the context of the activities of Christian Culture and Artists' Priesthood, such as a collection of letters of John Paul II, the decree of Primate Stefan Wyszyński on the appointment of AP, homilies and speeches of the bishops and priests, programs of events, exhibition catalogues, leaflets and posters. A separate part of the collection make the works created by artists: lectures, poetry, works of art and memoires. AP includes photos (several thousands), as well as newspaper clippings about cultural activities of WCC and AP in the 1970s and 1980s.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 1000-
- photos: 1000-
Date of founding
Place of founding
Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Kaczorowski, Grzegorz
- Tołłoczko-Suchańska, Barbara
Niewęgłowski, Wiesław Aleksander. Nowe Przymierze Kościoła i Środowisk Twórczych w Polsce w latach 1964-1996 (Doświadczenia warszawskie). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1997.
Niewęgłowski, Wiesław Aleksander, editor. Kościół i kultura w latach osiemdziesiątych XX wieku. Doświadczenia warszawskie. Warszawa, Katowice: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Duszpasterstwo Środowisk Twórczych Archidiecezji Warszawskiej, 2011.
Niewęgłowski, Wiesław, interview by Kaczorowski, Grzegorz, August 29, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection