Polish Church celebrates 80th anniversary of Georgian Auschwitz martyr

Warsaw, December 14, 2022

Photo: orthodox.pl Photo: orthodox.pl     

On November 23/December 6, 1942, St. Grigol (Peradze) laid down his life in the Auschwitz concentration camp, thus saving innocent prisoners from torture. This year marks the 80th anniversary of his martyric end.

He was living in Warsaw and teaching Patrology in the Orthodox Theology Department at Warsaw University when he was arrested, and thus he is also venerated by the Polish Orthodox Church.

Photo: orthodox.pl Photo: orthodox.pl     

His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw celebrated the Vigil for St. Grigol’s feast this year with the first community named in his honor, which currently gathers in a chapel in Warsaw. The Polish primate was also joined by His Grace Bishop Warsonofiusz of Siemiatycze and local Warsaw clergy, the Polish Church reports.

A highlight of the celebration was the presence of St. Grigol’s priestly cross that he had with him when he was killed at Auschwitz.

At the end of the All-Night Vigil, Met. Sawa addressed the faithful with a word, emphasizing that the blood of martyrs always bears fruit:

The blood of the martyr Grigol (Peradze), who testified to his Orthodox faith in Auschwitz, bears fruit in Poland, Georgia, but also around the world. The martyr is a universal figure, a witness to Christ and an example to the whole world. Today we unite with the holy martyr Grigol.

Let us remember that every saint wanted to unite with his Creator as much as possible. St. Grigol united himself with Him, giving his life for a fellow prisoner. In human understanding, this is great heroism.

Photo: orthodox.pl Photo: orthodox.pl     

“Having saints like St. Grigol, let us try to understand the meaning of our faith, which mustn’t be a show faith, but an inner faith, a deep faith that accepts what is joyful and good, but also perseveres in times of temptations and other experiences,” His Beatitude exhorted.

The next day, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Bp. Warsonofiusz, whose homily focused on martyrdom as victory over evil.

In addition to the liturgical celebrations, the Polish post office issued stamps with the image of St. Grigol in honor of the 80th anniversary of his martyrdom, and a ceremonial academy was organized at Auschwitz by the University of Warsaw, which was attended by President Zourabichvili of Georgia and representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

During St. Grigol’s time in Auschwitz, another inmate killed a German officer. The guards drove everyone out of the barracks naked in below-freezing temperatures until someone confessed. St. Grigol decided to take the blame and save his fellow prisoners. The guards let the dogs loose on the martyr, poured gasoline on him, and lit him on fire.

Read the life of St. Grigol from Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze’s book, The Lives of the Georgian Saints, here.

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