Polish community in Britain appeals against exhumation of Divine Mercy priest

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

(Polsko odwołanie społeczność przeciwko ekshumacji Bożego Miłosierdzia księdza)

Today, March 28, an appeal will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, against a judgement that permitted the exhumation of the body of Fr Jozef Jarzebowski, from a chapel at Fawley Court, Henley on Thames.

Fr Joseph was the priest who introduced the Divine Mercy devotion to the world.  On October 18 2011, Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice McCombe found for the British Ministry of Justice, who had issued an exhumation licence to the Marian Fathers, following their sale of the property to a developer.

The claimant, Elzbieta Rudewicz, who is a next of kin of Fr Jarzebowski, is contesting the judgement because she says the Judges did not consider the dying wish of the deceased and wishes of the family.  In granting the licence, campaigners say the Ministry of Justice also ignored the views of more than two thousand people who wrote letters of protest.

Father Jozef was a leading figure in the post war Polish émigré community.  A famous preacher, writer, poet, historian and teacher, he is best known for spreading the Divine Mercy devotion worldwide, and for founding Fawley Court with Divine Mercy College, a boarding school for young Poles.

He came to England after WW2, to work alongside Poles who had fought in the war, but then were unable to return to Poland because of the communist takeover in the aftermath of the Treaty of Yalta. 

Father Jozef died in 1964, and was considered by many to be a saint.  His funeral was attended by thousands.  He had chosen the spot at Fawley Court for his grave. 

The Polish community say they wish to protect the permanence of his grave, which is next to a chapel that was built by Prince Stanislaw Radziwill. 

The Prince, who was married to the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Lee Bouvier, and their son Antony, is buried in the crypt of the church.  His older son Prince John Radziwill also opposes the exhumation

by Gerard Bennett (source: ICN)