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Patriotism in the writings of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński
The present doctoral dissertation is devoted to the person of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński
(1822-1895), a 19th-century Archbishop of Warsaw. Feliński is a figure functioning in the
consciousness of the Polish society primarily as a Catholic saint and a representative of the
Catholic Church in a historically difficult period of the January Uprising. However, he was
also a talented writer descended from a family with a literary pedigree and an author of the
well-known Diaries, who personally met many outstanding artists of the Romantic era and
was a friend of Juliusz Słowacki. Finally, he was a man sincerely concerned about the future
of his fatherland and a participant of the Greater Poland Uprising of 1848.
The present thesis has both a historical and literary character, though the political, theological
and historical context is also of key importance. This study is an attempt to scrutinize the
works of Archbishop Feliński in terms of the patriotic problems present in his writings. The
evolution of the political and social views and the ecclesiastical visions of the poet together
with an increase in faith and civic awareness are portrayed in an extensive way. Moreover,
Feliński's relation to Romanticism is exposed – his relation to the works and prominent
writers of the Romantic era. Feliński emerges in the current study as a great patriot who was
open to formulaic views and opinions, especially those concerning the history of the Polish
nation, the interpretation of historical events and the significance of inciting succeeding
national uprisings. The activities which substantiate the patriotism of the poet are widely
discussed. Feliński’s patriotic attitude was expressed through the care for one's neighbour,
works of mercy for the poor and priests returning from exile, educational and pedagogical
work (establishment of shelters and schools), care for cultural heritage, young generations and
Polish families, appeals for religious and moral rebirth of the nation, as well as through
unfortunately unsuccessful attempts to reach a consensus with the Russian government. We
have also demonstrated the transformation of the patriotic and spiritual attitude of the writer
from a romantic and youthful commitment to an armed struggle for an independent homeland
to positivist organic work at the later stage of his pastoral ministry. It has been explained that
the patriotic thought of the archbishop, reconstructed in the present thesis, is built around the
following issues: nation (national mission, national solidarity, nation as the work of God),
fatherland (the concept of small and great fatherland and the heavenly homeland), patriotism
(understanding of the concept, entities responsible for patriotic education, explaining the
purpose of this education, the issue of national treason), the attitude to France and Russia, the
reasons for Poland's loss of independence (God's punishment for the Polish nation's
withdrawal from religious and moral life and political weakness of the state), the road to
political sovereignty (organic work in the Christian spirit, deep conversion, dynastic union
with Russia, the idea of federation with Ukraine), the necessity of cooperation between church
and state authorities for the sake of the society while respecting their individuality and
without violating the rights the two authorities are entitled to and the need for patriotic home
education for the persistence of national consciousness and the importance of the didactic
dimension of poetic creativity in stimulating patriotic feelings among the readers. As we have
attempted to prove, the author of Diaries fully deserves to be considered a Polish patriot. His
reflections, considerably rooted in Catholic social teaching and frequently drawing inspiration
from the works of great Romantics, have a timeless character. The present dissertation is
divided into eight chapters, each of which presents a different aspect of Feliński's patriotic
attitude and reflections. The thesis restores the memory of the thought and word of the
archbishop.
Explanations:
Writings – writings should be understood as works, of course in the sense of literary works,
the title could be translated to "Patriotism in the works of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński".
National
mission
–
historical
mission,
the
historical
mission
of
the
nation
Heavenly homeland – Heaven
Summary 2
Patriotism in the writings of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński is a doctoral dissertation which
introduces the figure of Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński (1822-1895), a 19th-century Archbishop
of Warsaw. The major purpose of the thesis is to offer a synthetic discussion of the issue of
patriotism in the works of Feliński. Taking as a starting point a postulate that the archbishop
belonged to the group of Polish patriots, we attempt to explain the issues around which the
patriotic thought of the poet concentrates. Apart from the subject of a formalisation of
Feliński’s patriotic attitude, of paramount importance are also the writer's reflections on: the
nation, fatherland, solidarity and unity, fraternity of peoples, cooperation with other nations,
Polish history, a proper understanding of obligations resulting from the love of the fatherland,
agreement between secular authorities and the Church for the sake of the development of the
state and the society, Polish-Russian relations, Polish-French relations in the 19th century,
national treason, the need for patriotic home education and the formation of appropriate moral
attitudes through the use of poetry (creation of personal patterns). The concept of patriotism
presented by Feliński is an appeal for taking a rational look at the history of the fatherland and
the nation, undertaking organic work and reconstructing Poland as a catholic country. In the
present thesis we have repeatedly emphasized the significant influence of the Romantic ethos
on Feliński’s worldview and workshop. The echo of romanticism resounds in the subject of
Mariology taken up by Feliński, the cult of national heroes, the Polish Mother model, the
image of Russia and the Russians, the issue of the small fatherland, national mission and the
meaning
of
the
nation
Key words: patriotism, romanticism, Polish-Russian relations, nation, fatherland
concept.
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