• January 26, 2015
  • 271

Priest Tadeusz Krahel: I have devoted my whole scientific career to the Vilnius Diocese

Vilnius was the capital of the largest, in terms of area, diocese of Poland before partitions, and from 1925 the largest archdiocese of the second Republic. Priest Tadeusz Krahel, Polish historian of the Church, devoted his scientific career to the history of the area, which included the territory now belonging to Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. He was born in the Grodno region, and as he says about himself – raised in the rays of Grodno. He has recently issued another scientific work which relates to one of the most dramatic periods of history – World War II. About the latest book, as well as his other publications, he talks as a guest of Wilnoteka.

The history of the Church – though remaining on the sidelines of history, is not very popular, but is of great importance for the understanding of history, especially in our part of the world. The border of the diocese – determined not by an accident – often proved to be more durable than borders of countries, changing through next wars, or more or less fair traties. Priest Tadeusz Krahel in his research work deals with the history of the largest (in terms of area) diocese of both the I and II Republic of Poland.

Existing since 1388 the diocese of Vilnius, included an area belonging today to Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. On the huge area people of different nationalities met, what, depending on the characters of events, could lead to mutual enrichment, or become a source of conflict.

In 1925 the diocese was raised to the rank of archdiocese, and it existed until 1991. The Church organization did not give up to Yalta , keeping the pre-war order, acknowledged border changes  only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The latest book by Priest Tadeusz Krahela “Archidiecezja wileńska w latach II wojny światowej. Studia i szkice”  (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vilnius during the years of World War II. Studies and sketches- translated by A.K)consists of 16 texts on structures and the clergy of the Archdiocese of Vilnius in the most dramatic period of history. It tells the story of Catholics who first experienced  Soviet occupation, then German, then the tragedy of “liberation” by the Red Army.

Also other publications of Priest Krahel are devoted to the history of the diocese of Vilnius. The most important are “Diecezja wileńska. Studia i szkice” (The Diocese of Vilnius. Studies and Sketches-translated by A.K) – a collection of articles, which was issued on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of priesthood of the historian. This chronological range is of more than five centuries: from the beginning of the diocese until 1925.

Both mentioned books are two parts of the triptych dedicated to the history of (archi)diocese of Vilnius. Priest Tadeusz Krahel announces the soon release of the long awaited work on the martyrology of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Vilnius during the Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism.

Tadeusz Krahel (born in September 24, 1937 in Zwierzyniec Wielki) – The Roman Catholic priest, holds a PhD degree of the Church’s history, a lecturer at the Archdiocese High Theological Seminary in Białystok, Białystok School of Theology in Bialystok and Vilnius, the Pontifical Faculty of Theology. In 1992-1993 rector of AWSD in Bialystok, member of the Białystok Scientific Society and the Polish Historical Society.

On the basis of: personal information

Photo: Paweł Dąbrowski

Editing: Bartosz Frątczak

Cooperation: Walenty Wojniłło

Translated by Alicja Kępińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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