The History of the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland

The history of diplomatic relations between Poland and the Holy See started at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The first representative of the Holy See was Bishop Zachariasz Ferreri who served his function since 1519. The first permanent Nuncio was Bishop Alojzy Lippomano who was nominated by Pope Julius III in 1555.

Before the Partitions, i.e. when the First Polish Republic was coming to an end, the last Nuncio, Laurentius Litta left Poland in March 1797. The residence of nuncios at that time was, inter alia, the Theatine Fathers’ Monastery located at Długa Street and the Archbishops of Gniezno Palace in Skierniewice.

In 1918, even before the revival of the Polish State, Aleksander Kakowski, Archbishop of Warsaw and a member of the Council of Regency, requested Pope Benedict XV to send a papal representative to Warsaw.

On 25 April 1918, Monsignor Achilles Ratti was nominated by Pope Benedict XV as Papal Apostolic Visitor to Poland, Russia and the Baltic States; on 6 June 1919, he was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland. On 4 June 1921, he left Poland because he was nominated to be enthroned as Archbishop of Milan after Cardinal Ferrari’s death.

His successor became Titular Archbishop of Ephesus Lorenzo Lauri who took up residence in the building located at 21, Książęca Street. At the beginning of December 1924, he moved to the palace of nunciature at Aleja Szucha. He finished his service in Poland in 1927.

He was succeeded by Titular Archbishop of Hadrian-Polis Francesco Marmaggi who exercised his diplomatic mission in Warsaw in the years 1928-1936. In December 1935, Pope Pius XI raised him to the dignity of cardinalate. Ceremonial presentation of cardinal biretta took place in the chapel of the Royal Castle in Warsaw in the presence of papal extraordinary envoy, Domestic Prelate of His Holiness Alfredo Pacini. In June next year, Cardinal Marmaggi finished his mission as nuncio and left Poland.

His successor became Titular Archbishop of Sirace Filippo Cortesi. He was named the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland on 14 December 1936. Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, he left the building of nunciature in Warsaw on 5 September 1939 and never returned. However, he kept his title of the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland until his death in 1947.

Fifty years passed when the next Nuncio, Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk, arrived in Warsaw in autumn of 1989. During his mission, he presided over the reestablishment of the Military Ordinariate of Poland in 1991. Also, he worked on a thorough reorganization of the administrative structure of the Catholic Church in Poland. This task resulted in John Paul II papal bull called Totus Tuus Poloniae populus  dated 25 March 1992. Archbishop Kowalczyk negotiated with the Polish State authorities the text of concordat agreement and on 28 July 1993 he signed Concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland. The ratifying documents were exchanged in Vatican on 25 March 1993 and a month later Concordat was enacted in Poland.

Archbishop Józef Kowalczyk completed his long service as nuncio in May 2010 when he was nominated as the new Archbishop of Gniezno and Primate of Poland. He was succeeded by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, appointed on 30 June 2010. He is the 72nd nuncio residing in Poland.