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Archdiocese in the Kingdom of Prussia. The archdiocese includes the Dioceses of Gnesen and Posen, which were separate up to 1821. Since that time they have been united under one archbishop. Besides these dioceses the ecclesiastical province also embraces the Bishopric of Culm.


The Bishopric of Posen ( Latin Posania ; Polish, Poznan ) was founded in 968 under Miecystaw or Mesko, Duke of Poland. Unable to cope with internal enemies, he sought the support of the German Emperor Otto I and became one of his vassals. Converted by his pious wife, Dubravka, daughter of Duke Boleslaw I of Bohemia, he was baptized, and, in order to promote the Christianization of his dominions, undertook to establish a permanent ecclesiastical organization. The first bishop was Jordan (968-82), who was appointed suffragan to the Archbishop of Magdeburg, in 970. Posen continued to be the only bishopric in Poland until the Diocese of Gnesen was created ( Latin Gnesna ; Polish, Gniezno). The latter place was chosen by Duke Boleslaw as a suitable location for a shrine for the remains of St. Adalbert , who had suffered martyrdom at the hands of the heathen Prussians. When the Emperor Otto III made his pilgrimage to the grave of St. Adalbert in 1000, he established an archbishopric in Gnesen without consulting Bishop Unger of Posen (982-1012), and placed it under the jurisdiction of Radim or Gaudentius, brother of St. Adalbert. At the same time he created the Bishoprics of Cracow, Breslau, and Kolberg, and incorporated them in the new archdiocese. On the death of Boleslaw, Posen was severed from Magdeburg in the course of the strife engendered by the national opposition to Germanism. Bishop Paulinus elected in 1037, was the first bishop consecrated in Gnesen. St. Norbert, Archbishop of Magdeburg succeeded in obtaining a papal rescript in 1133, in which the metropolitan jurisdiction of his archepiscopal see over Posen was still recognised. But since the twelfth century, Posen has undisputedly been de facto a suffragan of Gnesen. Both bishoprics were dependent on the temporal rulers of the country, who nominated the bishops at will, disposed arbitrarily of the benefices and prebends, and confiscated the estates of the bishops on their death.

The archiepiscopal See of Gnesen, richly endowed with estates and tithes, soon surpassed the older Bishopric of Posen both in extent and importance, and grew to be the most influential bishopric in the dukedom. In the thirteenth century the archbishops acquired the Principality of Lowiez. The diocese was further augmented by the addition of the suffragan Bishoprics of Lebus, Wlockawek, and Plock in the thirteenth century; of Wilna and Lutzk in the fourteenth; of Samogitia in the fifteenth, and of Culm in the sixteenth. Its prelates also obtained many extremely valuable privileges, both ecclesiastical and temporal. At the Council of Constance they were given the rank and title of Primas Poloniae et Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae, thereby getting ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all the Bishops of Poland and Lithuania. At the Fifth Lateran Council in 1515 they were honoured with the title of papal Legatus natus . In 1741 they received the privilege of wearing cardinal's vestments with the exception of the hat. The primacy entitled them to rank as princes of the empire. From 1572 they held authority as regents of the empire during an interregnum, superintended the election of the king and crowned the successful candidate.

The domestic condition of both bishopries left much to be desired during the first few centuries of their existence, even with respect to the spiritual and moral training of the clergy. Such was the charge made by Pope Innocent III in a letter to Henry I, Archbishop of Gnesen (1200-19), in 1207. He censured the prelate on the ground that the majority of the priests were living in open matrimony, that the clergy were presenting frivolous plays before the laity, that theatrical performances were being given in churches, and so forth. Most of the credit for the improvement of both dioceses is due to the activities of the monasteries, mainly of German foundation. These included abbeys of the Benedictines, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Knights Templar and Knights of St. John, and convents of Poor Clares, all of which became centres of prosperous development. Many of the bishops, also, dislayed a beneficent solicitude for education, although on this point there is very little precise information to be obtained. But at least we know that in the synodical statutes of 1257 Archbishop Fulk of Gnesen (1232-58) directed the parish priests to establish and maintain schools ; also that Bishop John VII (Lubranski) of Posen (1499-1520) founded a college at Posen, and other educational establishments.

Hussitism became widely disseminated throughout both dioceses in the fifteenth century. Its progress was mainly due to the fact that a great number of the sons of the Polish nobility attended the University of Prague. Bishop Stanislaus I (Ciolek) of Posen (1428-37) found himself at open variance with the city of Bentschen, whose inhabitants had become prevailingly Hussite, and was even compelled to fly from his diocese. His successor, on the other hand, Andreas of Bnin (1439-79), forced the city to deliver into his hands five Hussite preachers, whom he had burned at the stake in 1439. The further spread of the Hussite movement was checked by the recall of all Poles living in Bohemia, and by the prohibition of all commercial intercourse with that country. The doctrines of Luther, however, found some ready supporters amongst the inhabitants, thanks largely to feuds between the clergy and the nobility. They found acceptance first in the towns in Danzig as early as 1518. In Posen, Bishop John Lubranski (1499-1520) favoured the cause of the Reformation, sent to Leipzig for Christopher Endorf the humanist, and gave him an appointment in the high school. Petrus Tomicki (1520-25), the new bishop, seemed blind to the danger that menaced the Church. It was not until 1523 that strict measures for the preservation of the Faith were taken at the instance of the king. A kind of inquisition tribunal was instituted, and, at a synod convoked at Lenezye by Archbishop John Laski (1510-31) of Gnesen, the bull of Pope Leo X excommunicating Luther was published. In 1534 the young men of Poland were forbidden attend foreign schools. This restraint was somewhat relaxed under Laski's successors, Matthias Drzewicki (1531-35) and Andreas Krzycki (1535-37), the latter of whom was the composer of songs to Venus Vulgivaga and on other degrading themes. The conduct of Archbishop Jacob Uchanski (1562 81) in his attempts to establish a national church was marked by the greatest duplicity. The Moravian Brethren meanwhile obtained a footing in the Bishopric of Posen in spite of the opposition of Bishop Benedict Izdbienski (1546-53).

The defeat of the Reformation in Poland was mainly due to the energy of Cardinal Hosius. He instigated the promulgation and execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent throughout the country, and had the Jesuits sent thither. Bishop Adam Konarski (1562-74) brought them into Posen in 1571, and in Gnesen Archbishop Stanislaus Karnkowski (15821603) entrusted them with the direction of the seminaries of Gnesen and Kalisch. From a national standpoint, the effect of the victory of the Counter Reformation was that the German element in both dioceses became almost completely Polonized. Among the most important of the subsequent prelates may be mentioned: of the Archdiocese of Gnesen, Cardinal Bernhard Maciejowski (1604-08), Laurentius Gembicki (1616-24), Matthias Lubienski (1641-52), Cardinal Micliael Radziejowski (1687-1705), and Stanislaus Szembek (1706-22); of Posen, Andreas Opalenski (1607 23), Arldreas Szoldrski (1636-50), Bartholomew Tarto (1710-15), Prince Theodore Czartoryski (1739-68).

The decline of Poland resulted in its partition among Russia, Austria, and Prussia (1773, 1793, and 1795). The Archbishop of Gnesen retained jurisdiction only over that part of the kingdom that fell to the share of Prussia, and the Diocese of Posen was also reduced in extent. Whenthe Prussian occupation took effect, the Church was assured of the continued enjoyment of all her possessions, but after the insurrection of 1797 all her estates were confiscated. Pius VII transferred the primacy to the Archbishop of Warsaw ; but the title of prince was still attached to the Archbishopric of Gnesen until it too was withdrawn in 1829 by order of the cabinet. At the reorganization of ecclesiastical affairs in Prussia in 1821, the Russian-Polish part of the Diocese of Posen was cut off; the see was raised to an archbishopric, and joined to Gnesen under one prelate. Each bishopric, however, retained its own suffragan, its own cathedral chapter, and its own consistory. Timotheus Gorzenski (d. 1825) was consecrated first Archbishop of Gnesen-Posen, after he had been Bishop of Posen since 1809. The city of Posen, which in the interim had outstripped Gnesen in size and importance, was designated the official seat of the diocese. Since the Prussian regime began, both chapters have had the joint right of electing the archbishop. This right, however, has already proved illusory in several elections, the archiepiscopal throne having been left vacant on several occasions for lengthy periods. After the brief incumbency of Theophilus Wolicki (1828-29), the archdiocese was ruled by Martin Dunin (1831-42), a graduate of the Collegium Germanicum. Although he met the views of the government as far as possible on all questions concerning the schools and religions seminaries, he, with the Archbishop of Cologne, Clement August von Droste-Vischering, defended the discipline of the Church regarding mixed marriages so steadfastly that he was removed from his see, exiled from his diocese, and later, on his return to Gnesen, was arrested and confined in the fortress of Kolberg. It was only in 1840 that he was reinstated, as the result of the personal interposition of King Frederick William IV. Leo Przluski (1845-65) was succeeded by Miecislaus Halka Ledochowski (1866-86), one of the first victims of the " Kulturkampf ". On the 24 November, 1873, he was requested to abdicate his office by the chief president of the Province of Posen. Upon his refusal, he was summoned to appear before the court, arrested on the 3 February, 1874, and kept in prison at Ostrowo until February, 1876. Forbidden to stay in Prussia, he went to Rome, and was raised to the cardinalate by Pius IX in March, 1876. The Prussian government had him deposed by the supreme court of the state, and ordered a new election. Both cathedral chapters refused to carryout this order, whereupon the Prussians confiscated the episcopal possessions. Both suffragan bishops, the official Korytkowski, and other clergymen were persecuted by the government, and had variously to suffer imprisonment, exile, fines, the suspension of stipends, and deposition. In 1883, 165 of the 555 parishes in the two dioceses were without a pastor, and of these 131, embracing 165, 000 souls, were absolutely without any clergyman whatsoever.

In the beginning of 1886 Ledochwski resigned his incumbency into the pope's hands. The latter appointed a German, Sulius Dinder, to the archbishopric (1886-90). From the outset his German nationality inspired the distrust of the Poles. He was bitterly attacked by Polish newspapers and at public meetings, because he carried out the wishes of the administration in ordering religious instruction to be given to the higher classes of the secondary schools in the German tongue. Even his attitude in espousing in general the cause of the Poles wherever their rights were affected did nothing to mitigate his unpopularity. He was succeeded by a Pole, Florian von Stablewski (1891-1906), who, as in the case of Dinder, was nominated by the pope. He did his best to keep on good terms with the civil government , promoted the education and training of the clergy by founding seminaries and preparatory colleges in Gnesen and Posen, improved the Catholic unions and societies, and caused the publication of several Catholic daily and weekly journals. But in spite of his conciliatory policy he was subjected to the attacks of both the German and Polish elements as a result of the excessively obnoxious conditions that prevailed throughout the archdiocese. Since his death it has been without a spiritual head. The diocese is at present in a very troubled state. The Polish population is bitterly hostile to the administration in consequence of the exclusion of their language from the schools, and of tion policy inaugurated by the Prussian government. The schools have been altogether removed from the influence of the archbishop, the clergy and the parents of the children; the intermediate schools are, for the most part, under the guidance of Protestant directors and teachers. In consequence of the plantation of German settlers, mostly of Protestant extraction, many parishes have been brought to the verge of ruin. The efforts of the government to Germanize the country and the consequent resistance of the Poles have, in many cases, exceeded all legitimate bounds, and have given rise to conditions which are very detrimental to the interests of the Catholic Church.


The Archdiocese of Gnesen-Posen embraces the Prussian governmental department of Posen, the department of Bromberg (with the exception of the circle, or district, of Bromberg), the circles of Deutsch-Krone and the circle of Thorn in Western Prussia and several small places in Pomerania. The total population in 1900 consisted of 1, 272, 499 souls, of whom some 110, 000 were Germans. Each of the dioceses has a suffragan and its own cathedral chapter. During the vacancy of the see the administration of the Diocese of Posen is administered by the suffragan as capitular vicar and administrator general. The cathedral chapter is composed of a provost, a dean, eight canons and four honorary canons (1 vacant ). At the beginning of 1909 the bishopric included 26 deaneries, 348 parish churches 104 chapels-of-ease, 91 oratories and public chapels, 69 private chapels, 554 priests, 97 clerics, 951, 020 souls. There is a clerical seminary (Seminarium Leoninum) at Posen with 5 professors and 97 alumni, and 2 preparatory colleges. There have been no male orders in either diocese since the Kulturkampf. The following, female orders and congregations have institutions in the diocese : the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul have 13 convents with 112 sisters ; the Grey Sisters of St. Elizabeth have 21 with 141 sisters ; the Sisters of Mercy of St. Charles Borromeo 3 with 28 sisters ; the Servants of the Immaculate Conception , 8 with 42 sisters. The church at Posen is the official cathedral of the diocese. It was built between 1772 and 1775 on the site of an older structure. It contains numerous memorial tablets and monuments of former bishops, and also the famous golden chapel of Ranch. A collegiate chapter with a provost, a dean, and two canons is attached to the parish church ad Sanctam Mariam Magdalenam, formerly the church of the Jesuits. In the Diocese of Gnesen the provost of the cathedral chapter has jurisdiction as vicar capitular and administrator general. The chapter Consists of the provost and six canons. At the beginning of 1909 the diocese included 17 deaneries 207 parish churches, 29 chapels-of-ease, 64 oratories and chapels, 277 priests, 438, 425 Catholics. There is one seminary at Gnesen, with 3 professors and 31 students, one archiepiscopal preparatory college, and 9 ecclesiastical hospitals. There are 8 convents of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth with 38 sisters, 5 of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul with 33 inmates, and six of the Servants of the Immaculate Conception with 38 sisters. The Gothic cathedral at Gnesen, the largest religious sanctuary in all Poland, dates from the 14th century. It contains the silver sarcophagus enclosing the relics of St. Adalbert , to which thousands make pilgrimages each year. There are collegiate chapters attached to the Church of St. George in Gnesen, and to the parish church in Krusehwitz.

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