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Mieczyslaw Halka Ledóchowski

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Mieczyslaw Halka Ledóchowski


Mieczysław Halka Ledóchowski, (29 October 1822 – 22 July 1902) was born in Górki (near Sandomierz) in Russian controlled Congress Poland[1] to Count Josef Ledóchowski and Maria Zakrzewska. He was uncle to such high-ranking and notable religious as Saint Ursula Ledóchowska, the Blessed Maria Teresia (Theresa) Ledóchowska and Father Wlodimir Ledóchowski, General Superior of the Society of Jesus.

Styles of
Mieczysław Ledóchowski
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Poznań and Gniezno

After studying at Radom and Warsaw, he entered the Jesuit Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici in Rome in 1842, and was ordained priest on 13 July 1845. He became domestic prelate of Pope Pius IX in 1846, auditor of the papal nunciature at Lisbon in 1847, Apostolic delegate to Colombia and Chile in 1856, nuncio at Brussels and titular Archbishop of Thebes in 1861, and finally in December 1865 became Archbishop of Poznań and Gniezno and Primate of Poland (both cities then a part of the Prussian Province of Posen).

In 1873, the Prussian government began the implementation of Kulturkampf policies against the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and in the aftermath forbade the use of Polish in instruction in the Province of Posen. Archbishop Ledóchowski urgently protested this order, and ultimately issued a circular ordering the religion teachers at higher educational institutes to use German in their teachings to the higher classes but to preserve Polish in their teachings to the lower classes.

The religious instructors obediently followed the archbishop's order and were subsequently deposed by the Prussian government. After repeated fines for outlawed activity, the government demanded Ledóchowski's resignation. The archbishop responded that no temporal court could deprive him of an office granted to him by God, and he was jailed in the Ostrowo dungeon in February 1874.

In March 1874 the Pope appointed him as Cardinal Archbishop of Gniezno. The following month the government declared him as deposed. In 1875, Ledóchowski was released and banished and thereafter ruled his see from Rome. He resigned in 1885. In 1892 he became Prefect of the Propaganda, an office which he held until his death. An official reconciliation between the cardinal and the Prussian government reportedly took place when Emperor Wilhelm II visited Rome in 1893.

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