We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Rome's Most Faithful Daughter

The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914-1939

Neal Pease

Publication Year: 2009

When an independent Poland reappeared on the map of Europe after World War I, it was widely regarded as the most Catholic country on the continent, as “Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter.” All the same, the relations of the Second Polish Republic with the Church—both its representatives inside the country and the Holy See itself—proved far more difficult than expected.

Based on original research in the libraries and depositories of four countries, including recently opened collections in the Vatican Secret Archives, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914–1939 presents the first scholarly history of the close but complex political relationship of Poland with the Catholic Church during the interwar period. Neal Pease addresses, for example, the centrality of Poland in the Vatican’s plans to convert the Soviet Union to Catholicism and the curious reluctance of each successive Polish government to play the role assigned to it. He also reveals the complicated story of the relations of Polish Catholicism with Jews, Freemasons, and other minorities within the country and what the response of Pope Pius XII to the Nazi German invasion of Poland in 1939 can tell us about his controversial policies during World War II.

Both authoritative and lively, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter shows that the tensions generated by the interplay of church and state in Polish public life exerted great influence not only on the history of Poland but also on the wider Catholic world in the era between the wars.

Published by: Ohio University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xii

read more

Series Editor’s Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xiii-xiv

Although the topic of Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914–1939, might seem to some readers fairly specialized and even arcane, Professor Neal Pease’s study of church-state affairs in interwar Poland is an original, engaging, and important examination of this central dimension of political and social affairs. Pease ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xv-xviii

My wife Ewa and I happened to be living temporarily in Warsaw in June 1979, when the newly elected Pope John Paul II made his epochal first pilgrimage to his homeland. That experience, unforgettable on many levels, instilled in me an abiding interest in the role of the Catholic Church in the history of Poland. As time went on, I became struck by the scarcity of ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xix-xx

Guide to Pronunciation

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xxi-xxii

read more

1. Polonia Restituta: The Catholic Church and the Revival of Poland

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-29

The formal resumption of Polish statehood in modern times began in church. On February 9, 1919, not quite three months after its inception, the government of the fledgling Second Polish Republic marked the convocation of its first parliament, or Sejm, in Warsaw with an inaugural Roman Catholic high mass, reviving the custom of the bygone commonwealth ...

read more

2. Il Papa Polacco: The Making of Pius XI, 1918-1922

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 30-53

As the First World War entered its last months in 1918, the Vatican knew only two things for certain regarding the future of the Catholic Church in central and eastern Europe: that the antebellum order would be transformed beyond recognition, and that some sort of sovereign Poland would return to the map after its lengthy absence. Indeed, thanks to the ...

read more

3. From Constitution to Concordat, 1921-1925

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 54-76

The beginnings of normal political conditions in interwar Poland, or at least their approximation, had to await the end of the chaotic formative phase of independence, and so it was with the relationship of the Second Republic with the Roman Catholic Church at home and abroad. Not until the restored Rzeczpospolita had ensured its survival and more or ...

read more

4. Papal Blessing: Church and State in the Piłsudski Era, 1926–1935

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 77-100

For nearly the first decade of the Second Polish Republic, the triangular relationship of institutions that determined the ties of church and state had operated according to familiar and predictable patterns. First, the government of Poland functioned as an unsteady, raucous parliamentary democracy that passed the baton of authority from one ineffectual cabinet ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 101-108

read more

5. The Friends and Enemies of Catholic Poland

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 109-131

In 1927 G. K. Chesterton numbered Poland among a few “certain things in this world that are at once intensely loved and intensely hated.” These were things, he said, “of a strong character and either very good or very bad.”1 As one who loved Poland and indeed thought her very good, Chesterton wrote these words as an attempt to explain her to an uncomprehending ...

read more

6. Vilna and Lw

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 132-148

One of the many complications of life in interwar Poland, where the terms “Catholic” and “Pole” were widely regarded as synonyms, was that not all of its Catholics were Poles. The Catholic population of the western two-thirds of the country was almost entirely Polish, but in the northeast some eighty thousand Lithuanians, overwhelmingly Latin Catholic, dwelt ...

read more

7. Poland, the Orthodox, and the Conversion of Russia

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 149-172

In 1917, as the world war continued to ravage Europe, several things happened that, taken together, foreshadowed the most ambitious and complex theme of the relationship between Poland and Catholicism during the two decades that followed. On May 13, three Portuguese shepherd children received the first of what many came to believe were a series...

read more

8. Post Mortem: Pilsudski Lies Uneasy in the Grave

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 173-193

When Marshal JÓZEF PIŁSUDSKI died on May 12, 1935, the ninth anniversary of his rebellion that had brought him to power, the life also went out of the Polish regime that had based its claim to legitimacy on the mortal foundations of his personal authority and leadership. During the few years of peace left to the Second Republic, the mediocrities who ruled Poland as ...

read more

9. Oratio pro Pace: Pius XII and the Coming of the Second World War

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 194-218

In 1932 G. K. Chesterton, the foremost Catholic publicist of his day, predicted that the most terrible war in human history would break out before long on the frontier of the Second Polish Republic he lauded as the bulwark and hope of Christendom.1 Seven years later his prophecy came true, visiting ruin upon the country and plunging Europe into a nightmare ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 219-264


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 265-282


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 283-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443620
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821418567

Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 742512924
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rome's Most Faithful Daughter

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Church and state -- Poland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Catholic Church -- Poland -- Bishops -- History -- 20th century.
  • Poland -- Foreign relations -- Catholic Church.
  • Catholic Church -- Foreign relations -- Poland.
  • Secularism -- Poland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Poland -- Church history -- 20th century.
  • Poland -- Politics and government -- 1918-1945.
  • Piłsudski, Józef, 1867-1935.
  • Catholic Church -- Poland -- History -- 20th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access