Ledóchowski, Miescyslaw Halka
LEDÓCHOWSKI, MIESCYSLAW HALKA
Polish cardinal, archbishop, count; b. Górki, near Klimontów, Poland, Oct. 29, 1822; d. Rome, July 22, 1902. After attending the Gymnasiums in Radom and Warsaw, he continued his higher studies in Warsaw and Rome and obtained doctorates in theology and canon law. In 1845 he was ordained. After several years of service in the papal Secretariate of State, he was appointed auditor in the nunciature in Portugal. From 1855 to 1860 he was apostolic delegate extraordinary in Colombia and Chile. After his consecration as a titular bishop on Nov. 3, 1861, he served as nuncio in Belgium (1861–66). On December 8, 1866, Pope Pius IX named him archbishop of Gniezno and Poznań (German, Gnesen and Posen). In this office he showed special concern for the proper training of his clergy and the care of souls. At vatican council i he was a member of the commission dealing with dogmatic questions. In 1870 he journeyed to Versailles to induce Otto von Bismarck to support the restoration of the states of the church. When the kulturkampf in Prussia endangered Polish Catholicism, Ledóchowski dedicated the archbishoprics of Gniezno and Poznań to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He insisted that religion be taught in Polish and permitted religious instruction in German only for the highest classes of the Gymnasium. Because of his failure to observe the May Laws issued by the Prussian government, he was fined 30,000 taler (about $90,000). On Nov. 24, 1873, the governor of the Province of Posen demanded his resignation from his episcopal office. Upon his refusal, he was arrested on Feb. 3, 1874 and interned at Oströw. The Prussian court for ecclesiastical affairs ordered his removal from office and forced the cathedral chapter to elect a successor, but the archbishop's authority actually increased during his detention (1874–76). Pope Pius IX called him "the brave defender of the faith" and upon making him a cardinal (1875) compared him with John fisher. After his release, he was forbidden to reside in his sees or in the neighboring provinces. When he issued regulations for his archdioceses from Rome, he was again fined by the German government for "usurpation of episcopal rights." During the negotiations leading to the settlement of the Kulturkampf, he resigned from his archbishoprics (February 1886). Meanwhile, beginning in 1883 he had been serving in the papal Secretariate of State; in 1885 he was made secretary of papal briefs. He was a highly respected member of several Roman congregations and served as prefect of the Congregation for the propagation of the faith (1892–1902). He was skeptical of the efforts of the Holy See to reach an understanding with Russia and even expressed opposition. In 1927 his remains were transferred from Rome to the cathedral of Poznań.
Bibliography: j. b. kissling, Geschichte des Kulturkampfes im Deutschen Reiche, 3 v. (Freiburg 1911–16). w. klimkiewicz, Kardynal Ledóchowski na tle swej epoki, 1822–1902, 2 v. (Cracow 1938–39). e. winter, Russland und die slawischen Völker in der Diplomatie des Vatikans, 1878–1903 (Berlin 1950). a. mercati and a. pelzer, Dizionario ecclesiastico, 3 v. (Turin 1954–58) 2:621–622. g. maron, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 6 v. (Tübingen 1957–63) 4:261–262.