Old-Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland
(Kościół Starokatolicki Mariawitów)
This community was founded in 1906 in Warsaw by a diocesan priest and a sister of the Third Order of Franciscans. It developed out of the community of sisters founded by the latter in Plock in 1887 and the community of secular priests organized at her instigation in 1893. Both groups adopted the Franciscan rule and aimed at religious, moral and social renewal of clergy and people. They stressed the veneration of the eucharist and the blessed Virgin Mary. Because of their mystical bent they were not approved by the Vatican. The new church recognized the first seven ecumenical councils but rejected papal primacy and infallibility. At a later stage, celibacy of the clergy was made optional, and confession was made voluntary. Negotiations with the members of the Utrecht Union culminated in the reception of the Mariavites into the Old-Catholics at their congress in Vienna in 1909. The first bishop was consecrated in the same year. During the second world war, the church underwent severe persecution and its membership went down. Currently the church is not a member of the Old-Catholic Union of Utrecht.
One of the four dioceses of the Old-Catholic Mariavite Church is in France. It counts 5,000 members, who are served by a bishop and one priest. The highest authority of the church is the synod. Its theological students are educated at a spiritual seminary in Plock and a Christian theological academy in Warsaw. There are currently two sisters. Every year the church makes a pilgrimage on 15 August to Plock.
Photo: Mateusz Szymkiewicz