Archive for the religion Category

The Poles and Catholicism

Posted in culture, religion with tags on July 25, 2008 by Philonous

One of the most unbelievable sights to greet me in Warsaw was that of the devout Catholics at all times of the day and night. The churches are so full of the faithful that despite their cavernous interiors, that a significant proportion of those attending services spill outside onto the street, often hearing (and saying) mass after dark bathed in the sodium yellow of street lamps. Christmas and Easter services often fill British churches to capacity with casual believers and those craving tradition, but never have I seen anything quite like this. The congregation peer in through the open door, straining to see over those on the steps and kneel on the cobbles at the appropriate moments. The priest’s singing is piped outside through loudspeakers.
Poland seems to have acquired something of a reputation as a religious country. Certainly from what I’ve seen over the last couple of days this is certainly true. Wandering along some street or other, I noticed a cyclist who crossed himself as he passed a church. People in restaurants regularly say grace. If this wasn’t enough, at around midnight in Warsaw airport, the departure lounge was filled by what looked like a school party. Having moved the furniture to suit their purposes, I supposed that they would either catch a flight or bed down for the night. In fact their unrolling of sleeping mats was to construct a makeshift altar.I was eyed with a certain degree of suspicion so decided to take a photo somewhat incognito (and therefore badly framed) – check out the massive golden cross on the left. I must say, I was slightly taken aback by the whole thing. I’d never seen so much devotion in a public place before and I was impressed.