Poznan, Poland Virgin Mary Painting @ St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic Church in Downers Grove
If you ever find yourself at St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic Church in Downers Grove, make sure you take a moment to look at the painting of the Virgin Mary hanging in the vestibule right outside the church that is hanging just to the right of the main doors. That's it above. St. Mary's is the oldest Catholic church in Downers. From the SMG site:
St. Mary of Gostyn Parish, the oldest Catholic church in Downers Grove, was founded by poor immigrants who came from Gostyn, Poland, shortly after the American Civil War. By the 1880’s, Polish-speaking priests from Chicago were regularly serving this rural settlement. Masses were said in homes or tents because there was no church.
Founded by Polish immigrants. Cool, right? But also cool because my Mom is Polish. So that means, I'm Polish. And so are my kids.
Right below the painting is this plaque that reads "The picture of the Virgin Mary and child dates from 1540."
Yeah...1540?!?! If you click the photo and zoom in, you can make it out.
But, the painting has another little detail that is makes it particularly relevant for my family. You can see the artist is Copia L. Drapiewski on the painting. But, a quick Google search reveals that it might be from this guy named Władysław Drapiewski - who was a church painter. The problem? He wasn't alive in 1500's?! But, check out his bio. Seems like the guy, no?
Drapiewski, Władysław, Polish church painter and conserver.
...In 1928 Władysław Drapiewski is awarded the Lateran Cross by Pope Pius XI for services to church painting; in 1958 Pope Pius XII awards him the Knights Cross of the Order of St. George. Władysław Drapiewski is one of the most important modern muralists in churches in Poland and works mainly in the dioceses of Płock and Chełm. Between 1904 and 1914 and after 1920 he completes important murals in the cathedral at Płock in the neo-Renaissance style in mineral paints, including sketches for stained-glass windows. In 1913 he paints murals in neo-Renaissance, neo-gothic and Secession style in the church at Czerwińsk nad Wisłą.
But the detail that matters? It is marked "Poznan". Poznan is in West-Central Poland and is one of the oldest and largest towns in Poland. And guess what? That's where my Mom's people are from! We're Poznan-ians. (is that a thing?) In fact, my Mom and Sister Vic (Equation Boy/Man's wife) have visited Poznan and visited with my Mom's family. (That's a link to my sister's travel blog: Let's Go Mama. If you have a few minutes, head over there and tool around her posts. She's a good writer (ahem...English major and professional writer) and has a good eye for photography.)
My mom was visiting during Fall Break this year, so we decided to take her to a place she’d always wanted to go. Poland! My mom’s parents were born in Poland. She grew up in The Back of the Yards, a Polish neighborhood Chicago, surrounded by immigrants, all finding their way in their new life in America. My mom’s connection to her Polish roots run strong, and she’s always, always wanted to go to Poland to learn more about where her parents came from. So, it was decided.
So...this is a nice little connection in this, apparently, very small world. This place in far away Poland where my Mother's family is from (and still lives) produced a painter who produced a work that hangs in our Church in Downers Grove. Small world, indeed.