Sapieha, Adam Stefan

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Cardinal, archbishop of Kraków, Poland; b. May 14, 1867, in Krasiczyn near Przemysl, Poland (then in Austrian Galicia), d. July 27, 1951, in Kraków; buried in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.

Adam Sapieha was born into an Polish-Lithuanian aristocratic family, and from an early age was taught the values of patiotism an public service. He took a degree in law from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (1890), in theology from the University of Innsbruck (1894), and finally a doctorate in law from the Gregorian University in Rome (1896), in addition to which he received training in diplomacy. He was ordained a priest of the diocese of Lwow (L'viv) Oct. 1, 1893.

After his ordination, he quickly distinguished himself in pastoral work, most notably in his service to the sick during a cholera epidemic. He served as vice-rector of the Metropolitan Seminary in Lwów in the years 1897 to 1901. In 1906 he was made chamberlain to Pope pius x, and had considerable influence on his policies toward the church in historically Polish lands.

He was named Bishop of Kraków in 1911 and was consecrated by Pius on December 17 of that year, taking up his diocese March 3, 1912. In 1925 he was made the first archbishop-metropolitan of Kraków. His interests and activities as a bishop were many, ranging from a strong concern for the intellectual and moral formation of the clergy, to education, to youth ministry, to the charitable activities which were so especially needed in the wake of the two world wars, their aftermath, the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Sapieha was always a strong proponent of Poland's independence, and during the Nazi occupation (193945), his support for the Polish underground in the face of Nazi attempts to liquidate all vestiges of Polish nationhood and national leadership (including many members of the clergy) was notable and courageous. He also encouraged the provision of baptismal papers to Jews to save them from extermination.

On Feb. 18, 1946, he was named Cardinal Presbyter of Sancta Maria Nova by Pius XII. Cardinal Sapieha spent the last years of his life rebuilding and stabilizing the church in his archdiocese after the cataclysm of the Second World War. From 1945 he was head of Caritas in Poland, until the Communist authorities put it under state control in 1950. He ordained Karol Wojtyła (the future john paul ii), and acted as his mentor both when Wojtyła was a seminarian and when he was a young priest.

Bibliography: Ksiega sapieżynska, vols. 12, j. wolny, ed. Kraków: 19821986. j. czajkowski, Kardynał Adam Stefan Sapieha, Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1997.

[p. radzilowski]