Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland - Sentimental Sunday

"Beloved Church in Sunny Morning - J.D."
(Painting of Holy Cross Church privately held by Cynthia Shenette; The 1945 photo of Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, Poland is in the public domain and available from Wikipedia; Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was sorting through the last couple of cartons left from the close out of my mom's house in 2004.  I guess the old adage, "Good things come to those who wait," is true at least in this particular case.  Besides finding a copy of the local paper with the headline V-J  WAR ENDS and an old car insurance policy from 1945, I also found the painting above and following poem sent to my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, from his aunt Jadwiga Marjionowa in March of 1960.

The painting looks like it was probably painted in watercolor.  I don't know who the artist was, but it could have been painted by a Janina Dyner, the author of the poem, or someone she was acquainted with. It also could have been painted by a street artist or the like and purchased by Janina who added the poem later.  The painting and poem were originally sent to my grandfather's aunt, Julia Bielska, in February of 1948.

The notation to the right of the painting says:

To my dear Adolf, I'm sending this keepsake which was left for me after death of aunt Julia. I hope it will remind you of homeland, well known church in Warsaw, aunt and hopefully me.
Jadwiga Marjionowa
Krakow March 26 1960

The words directly below the painting say:

Beloved church in sunny morning - JD

On the back of the painting is a note and poem.

To my dear aunt Julia. In the occasion of 4th name day you spending far away from your beloved Warsaw I'm sending you best wishes and this modest poem.
Janina Dyner

According to a note on the document it was sent from Wlochy, Poland in February of 1948 where Janina was living at the time. My cousin Marek said there are three towns named Wlochy (translation, Italy) in Poland, and at this point I don't know which of the three it was sent from.

What is interesting from a family history point of view is that my grandfather's Aunt Julia was not living in Warsaw at the time this was given to her in 1948. After the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the surviving Warsaw population was rounded up and evacuated from the city while the Nazis systematically destroyed what was left of the city after the Uprising. After the war the residents of Warsaw ended up in other parts of the country until Warsaw was once again made habitable for those who wished to return.

What I find rather sad about this painting and poem is that it was sent to my grandfather by Jadwiga in March of 1960.  My grandfather died in December of 1959, but apparently word had not made it back to everyone in Poland by the following March.  I have a letter that was written shortly after this was sent indicating that the family in Poland had finally received word of my grandfather's death.

After I found this painting and note I scanned and sent a copy to my cousin Marek and asked him to translate it.  He returned the translation of the poem to me last week.  To put the translation in context he said, "This is a translation of the poem. It's may not be perfect, I'm not really good with translations of poems so don't mind if grammar is not correct. I tried to keep the meaning and emotion of this poem as best as I could."  I think he did a wonderful job.

Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland 1945

Warsaw my beloved capitol!
Even though enemy turned you into ruins
Satan force did not overcome you,
Because there is a god inside the hearts of your sons.
The ground soaked with blood of your children,
Your population exiled by the enemy
But the star of hope shines for you
Because you are devoted to the benevolent mother.
Days of terror and torture past away
Your people are returning from the exile
And not curses and groans they brings
But they offer heart and effort.
The streets will feel with the crowd
Life will flow broadly.
And again the towers of Holy Cross
Will rise up high into the sky.
And again inside Holy Cross Temple
Faithful people will pray
Please  Lord, bless Warsaw the capital
And whole homeland.

If you are interested in reading a little more about my family and Holy Cross Church check out my link, Szerejko - Szymanska Wedding Invitation - Amanuensis Monday.  My grandfather's brother Feliks Szerejko married his second wife Leokadia Szymanska at Holy Cross in 1919. Also Steve Danko who writes Steve's Genealogy Blog, wrote a wonderful History of the Holy Cross Church, Warsaw, Poland back in September of 2011.  Please check it out.

Special Thanks: To my cousin Marek for his translation of the text and the poem.

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Anonymous said...


Beautiful painting! As you can tell from Steve's post that you reference, he and I both have ancestors married in that church. Since I have YET to find a blogger I'm related to, it's nice the 3 of us can at least share the church in common. ;-)


Cynthia Shenette said...


I did notice in Steve's post that you have ancestors with the last name Konopka. My grandmother's cousin, Sophie (Kowalewski) Konopka, (obviously) married into the Konopka family. Unfortunately I haven't researched the Konopkas so I don't know if they were from Warsaw or not. If I ever discover that they were indeed from Warsaw I will be sure to let you know!

I am convinced my relatives probably either knew or knew of Steve's family, as he also has Worcester connections. The members of Worcester's Polish community all seemed to know one another back in the day.

Anyway, as you said, it is nice to think our ancestors share a church in common!

Thank you for your comment!