40 days of the siege of Jasna Góra in 1655

Siege of Clari Montis (Jasna Góra) in 1655

Translated from the original Polish from jasnagora.com.

Jasna Góra, Swedish siege in 1655, ca. 1900 /?/ signed Ludwik Stasiak (1858-1924).

17 XI 1655. – The provincial Father Teofil Bronowski transported the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady from Jasna Góra to Silesia to avoid exposing it to profanation by the Swedes and to organise help and relief of Jasna Góra. The painting was kept in the Pauline monastery in Mochów (others say in the castle chapel in Głogówek, where King Jan Kazimierz stayed).

18 XI 1655: Beginning of the siege of Jasna Góra by the Swedes. When the Swedes approached Jasna Góra at 2 pm, they found it well prepared for defence. The Prior of the monastery, Father Augustyn Kordecki, prepared the garrison spiritually. In the morning, he celebrated Mass in front of the Miraculous Picture, held a Eucharistic procession along the ramparts, and blessed the weapons.

 On the same date, King Jan Kazimierz wrote from Głogówek to Father Augustyn Kordecki: “…how strong we hope that the Lord God Himself will shame and destroy the impiety raging against this Earthly Heaven”.

25 XI 1655: The eighth day of the Swedish siege was one of the hardest for the Jasna Gora garrison, as the Swedes tried to break the resistance with artillery fire from all guns.

30 XI 1655: The thirteenth day of the Swedish siege. H. Sienkiewicz attributes to General B. Müller this reflection: “Müller at first could not think in his head why, when the whole country had surrendered, this one place defends itself, what power sustains it; and in the name of what hopes do these monks refuse to yield; what do they aspire to, what do they expect?”

1 XII 1655: Fourteenth day of the Swedish siege. King Carl Gustav – was in favour of lifting the siege because, as he wrote to General Müller, “attacking the image of Mary will provoke even greater anger in the Poles”.

6 XII 1655: Day 19 of the Swedish siege.

7 XII 1655: 20th day of the Swedish siege. Fr Kordecki ordered the orchestra to play Marian melodies in the tower. On this day, General B. Müller sent the nobleman Piotr Śladkowski to the monastery to persuade the Jasna Góra garrison to surrender the monastery. The emissary fulfilled just the opposite mission – he encouraged the defenders to persevere. H. Sienkiewicz later wrote: “Shots fired at Jasna Góra rang out across the country from the Baltic to the Carpathian Mountains”.

8 XII 1655: 21st day of the Swedish siege. Fr Kordecki celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary very solemnly, with a Eucharistic procession along the ramparts, despite the hurricane artillery fire of the besiegers. The melodies of Marian hymns were constantly heard from the tower.

9 XII 1655: On the 22nd day of the siege, reinforcements for the Swedes arrived from Krakow – 200 infantry soldiers and demolition guns, large calibre (“severe colubrine”).

11 XII 1655: The 24th day of the Swedish siege was one of the heaviest. The large calibre cannons from Krakow did enormous damage to the besieged fortress. The enemy’s advantage was clear. Three hundred forty artillery shells were thrown at the monastery (some weighing 26 pounds). H. Sienkiewicz, in Potop, wrote the following about this siege: “The whole country was like a ship sinking. And only the monastery still stood like the end of a mast over the waves. Could they, the castaways attached to this mast, have considered saving the whole country? According to human reckoning, they could not! And yet Fr. KORDECKI called out to the defenders: ‘CHILDREN, YET THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN WILL SHOW THAT SHE IS STRONGER THAN DEMOLITION BARRAGES!'”.

12 XII 1655: 25th day of the Swedish siege. Fr Kordecki later wrote in the “New Gigantomachia”: “Jasna Góra is known to the world for the graces and miracles which the generous and mighty hand of God has sent here upon all. That is why the Swedes, the enemy of our faith, hates it so much…”.

14 XII 1655: On the 25th day of the Swedish siege, the Jasna Gora garrison staged a night expedition to the enemy camp, and a melee ensued. Fr Kordecki (according to H. Sienkiewicz): “Strangely Satan is fierce against this PLACE and makes every effort to prevent the services here and to allow the faithful to participate as little as possible, for nothing brings such desperation to the infernal court as the sight of reverence for the One who crushed the serpent’s head”.

15 XII 1655: On the 28th day of the siege, there is a crisis in the Jasna Góra garrison – some of the nobility cause a mutiny and want to save themselves by surrendering the fortress. The part of the garrison wanting surrender even temporarily imprisons the unyielding Fr Augustyn Kordecki.

16 XII 1655: 29th day of the Swedish siege – hand-to-hand combat. The Swedes approached the ramparts that day and staged a climb.

17 XII 1655: 30th day of the Swedish siege. The expedition of the Jasna Góra garrison to the enemy camp and the nailing down of the four most dangerous cannons. And Gen. W. Wrzesowicz went to Field Marshal A. Wittemberg to report on the situation at Jasna Góra and to convince the commander-in-chief of the need to lift the siege and withdraw from the Jasna Góra fortress.

19 XII 1665: On the 32nd day of the Swedish siege, the Frenchman Des Noyes, who was present with the king, wrote from Glogowek: “The monks set the most beautiful example of courage in Poland… The monks attribute all this to a miracle rather than to their courage. Here is the first watchtower who resisted the Swedes and shamed the stronger ones, who surrendered to them without a fight”.

20 XII 1655: 33rd day of the siege. Daylight expedition of the Jasna Góra crew to the Swedish camp under the command of Sieradz swordsman Stefan Zamoyski.

22 XII 1655: On the 35th day of the siege, General W. Wrzesowicz wrote from under Jasna Góra to the Swedish King Charles Gustav: “If it depended on me, I would not attack this place in such a way – for many reasons both political and military. By doing so, we completely ruin the regiments, the quarters, and the country. We’re taking a swipe at the Polish soul, and what is to be feared is that it’s happening in vain and fruitlessly’.

23 XII 1655: On the 36th day of the Swedish siege, Jacek Brzuchanski, a townsman from Częstochowa, disguised as a quartermaster soldier, handed over a bag of fish to the Jasna Gora crew and the news of new Swedish reinforcements coming from Krakow. The custom of serving a fish dish at the Jasna Góra Monastery on St Stephen’s Day has survived to this day.

24 XII 1655: On the 37th day of the siege, General B. Müller, in a letter to Fr. Kordecki, calling for surrender, threatened with the words: “I want to be excused for exterminating all of you and for turning such a holy and a place famous throughout the Catholic into a pile of ruins”.

25 XII 1655: On the 38th day of the siege, there was the strongest and last assault on the Jasna Gora Monastery by Swedish artillery. On this day, after celebrating the Christmas Midnight Mass, under the command of Father Stanislaw Kaszkowic, the dean of Żywiec, the highlanders set off to the relief of Jasna Góra – “The Blessed Virgin to the rescue!”.

26 XII 1655: On the 39th day of the siege, on the night of 26/27, the Swedes retreated from Jasna Góra, suffering total defeat: “And the snow was still covering the tracks of the Swedes” (H. Sienkiewicz, The Deluge). “The shield of the Polish Kingdom – Jasna Góra Mary!”

27 XII 1655: The first day after the departure of the Swedes. Let us note some statements about this event: Primate Kazimierz Florian Czartoryski: “Jasna Góra alone amidst the smoking ruins of Poland, untouched, became the country’s salvation, lifting itself again to life… Therefore, we remember that the restoration of the entire Polish state, the salvation of the public and the private fate of the Republic, the rebuilding of the worship of God in the churches, the rescue and revival of the freedom inherited from our ancestors, is the work of Marian Jasna Góra”;

– Swedish historian Theodor Westrin: “The name Czestochowa should not be foreign to any cultured Swede”;

– Fr Augustyn Kordecki, who, according to Józef Ignacy Kraszewski’s phrase, “became a miraculous instrument of miracles”, ends his Memoirs of the Siege “Nowa Gigantomachia” with the words: “Look to Polish posterity how great a benefit the veneration of the Mother of God has brought you… Let the Christian world see and marvel at how bravely Our Queen, the Lady of Heaven and Earth, defends her faithful Kingdom and how effectively she brings rescue to her servants devoid of human help…”.

29 XII 1655: Nobles and troops in Tyszowce (Lublin Province) established a Confederation against the Swedes (their withdrawal from Jasna Góra was not yet known). The motive for opposing the Swedish king was given as follows: “they were ravaging and oppressing the crown countries, plundering churches and monasteries, and even Czestochowa, the most noble place not only of the Republic but of the Christian world for devotions and various votive offerings devoted to the treasure of God, having encircled it in several thousand men, he ordered it to be stormed to exterminate the holy Catholic faith more effectively…”.

Compiled by Fr Melchior Królik, OSPPE, chronicler of Jasna Góra in 1986.

ca. 15.11.1603 r. – In Iwanowice near Kalisz, in the family of Marcin and Dorota Kordecki, the future defender of Jasna Góra is born.

16.11.1603 r. – He is baptised as Klemens by the parish priest Urban Osjakowiusz;

– He takes three years of philosophical studies at the Jesuit College in Kalisz;

– He studied theology at the Jesuit College in Poznań for four years;

19.03.1633 r. – at Jasna Córa, he donned the monastic habit, thus commencing his one-year novitiate. He took the name Augustine in honour of St Augustine (354-430), on whose teachings the Pauline Rule was based.

1634 r. – After passing the novitiate, he teaches rhetoric in Wieluń;

25.03.1634 r. – at Jasna Córa, he makes his religious profession vowing chastity, poverty and obedience;

26.03.1634 r. – receives his first tonsure and four lower priestly orders;

01.04.1634 r. – is ordained a subdeacon;

15.04.1634 r. – in Gniezno, Bishop Jan of Zalesie Baykowski ordains Augustyn to the diaconate;

10.06.1634 r. – receives priestly ordination from the hands of Primate Jan Wężyk;

12.1635 r. – assumes duties as a lecturer of humanities at Jasna Córna;

1636 r. – becomes deputy master of the novitiate;

1638 r. – is appointed Prior of the monastery in Wieluń;

06.1641 r. – elected Prior of the monastery in Wielgomłyny;

1643 r. – Re-elected Prior at the Monastery of Wieluń;

15.06.1644 r. – during the provincial chapter, he is elected second provincial definitor and, for the first time, Prior of Jasna Gora;

11.09.1644 r. – acts as representative of the Polish province at the General Chapter in Hungary;

1645 r. – in Bešeňová, he holds the office of sub-principal and, at the same time, becomes a lecturer to the clerics;

01.06.1646 r. – assumes the office of Prior of the Abbey in Oporów;

25.07.1647 r. – becomes prior of the monastery in Pińczów;

10.05.1650 r. – is elected First Provincial Definitor and, for the second time, Prior of Jasna Góra;

1651 r. – Prior Kordecki spends five thousand Polish florins on the purchase of five cannons;

05.07.1653 r. – is elected third Provincial Definitor and, for the third time Prior of Jasna Góra;

10.02.1654 r. – the tower of Jasna Góra burns down, and a year later, the rebuilt tower is personally consecrated by Prior Kordecki

18.11.1655 r. – The Swedish army begins the siege of Jasna Góra. Prior Kordecki celebrates Mass and later arranges a procession along the Jasna Gora walls with the Blessed Sacrament;

27.12.1655 r. – after a bloody and exhausting battle, the Swedes abandon further attacks;

29.01.1656 r. – General Müller and his army again attempt to capture Jasna Góra by surprise;

04.02.1656 r. – Swedish troops under the command of General Wrzesowicz try to force Prior Kordecki to surrender Jasna Góra;

09.04.1656 r. – General Wrzesowicz surrounds Jasna Góra and, having achieved nothing, demands a contribution from the Prior. Prior Kordecki refuses, and the besieging soldiers withdraw;

1657 r. – A memoir of the defence of Jasna Góra by Prior Kordecki entitled: “Nova Gigantomachia” is published in Krakow in a print run of 2,000 copies;

1657 r. – King Jan Kazimierz, out of gratitude for the defence of Jasna Góra, offers Father Kordecki a perpetual priory and also the dignity of bishop, which he does not accept;

1657 r. – assumes the office of Polish Pauline Provincial;

1657 r. – promulgates a decree on the obligation of monasteries to keep chronicle records;

03.08.1666 r. – is elected vicar of the province;

12.08.1669 r. – becomes Prior of Jasna Góra for the sixth time;

1669 r. – during the priory of O. Kordecki the construction of the Refectory Hall is completed;

07.04.1671 r. – becomes Provincial of Poland;

– Thanks to Prior Kordecki, a painting record of the history of Jasna Góra is created in the Knights’ Hall;

1671 r. – also saw the dedication of the Chapel of St Paul the First Hermit;

20.03.1673 r. – Fr Augustyn Kordecki dies in the monastery in Wieruszów;

24.03.1673 r. – The body of the deceased is placed at Jasna Góra in the chapel of St Paul the First Hermit;

1704 r. – the remains of the heroic Prior were transferred to the crypt beneath the Chapel of the Miraculous Picture;

1859 r. – erection on Jasna Góra of a monument to Prior Kordecki;

1938 r. – the unveiling of a monument to Father Kordecki in Szczytniki, destroyed by the Germans in 1942;

1974 r. – Jerzy Hoffman brings Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novel “Potop” to the screen, entrusting the role of Prior Kordecki to Stanisław Jasiukiewicz

19.09.1982 r. – Ceremony for the unveiling of the monument to Fr Kordecki in Szczytniki. The inscription on one of the plates on the pedestal reads: ‘In the year of the Lord 1982, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, when the Primate of Poland was the Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw Józef Glemp, the Bishop of Włocławek Jan Zaręba, the General of the Pauline Fathers Józef Płatek, the Prior of Jasna Góra Fr. Konstantinusz Kunz, the Parish Priest of Iwanowice Fr. Jan Kaliszewski, this monument was erected with the donations of the society in the Jubilee Year of the 600th anniversary of Jasna Góra in place of the monument demolished during the Second World War.