Father Tadeusz Jachimowski
2 October 2021
Father Tadeusz Jachimowski was born on February 12th, 1892 in Kazimiera Mała, a small village in today’s Świętokrzyskie. His parents were Julian Jachimowski and Helena, née Kobylańska. Julian Jachimowski was a teacher and a principal at a school in Jędrzejewo, and vigilante commander.
Tadeusz Jachimowski attended the municipal middle school in Pinczów. In 1913 Bishop August Losiński sent him to study theology at St. Petersburg Theological Academy. However, when World War I broke out, he returned to Kielce and then entered the School of Theology in Kielce, where he was ordained a priest. After becoming a priest, he returned to St. Petersburg. During his studies, he was the president of the academic association “Polonia”. He received his master’s degree in theology in 1917.
Simultaneously, Bishop Jan Cieplak, the administrator of the Archdiocese of Mogilev, asked the rector of the academy to encourage students of the final year to become chaplains to Polish soldiers. One of the first volunteers was Father Tadeusz Jachimowski. In April 1917, Bishop Cieplak appointed him the chaplain to the Polish Armed Forces in the East. Father Jachimowski was not just a spiritual guide, but also acted as an educator and an advocate of Polishness among soldiers. Shortly after, he took up pastoral service in the hospital of the 1st Polish Rifle Regiment, and then in the 1st Polish Rifle Division. At the same time, he volunteered to take on the duties of the chaplain of the 2nd Polish Rifle Regiment. In July 1917, the 1st Polish Corps in Russia was formed under the command of General Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki, from Polish soldiers previously serving in the Imperial Army. The soldiers were supposed to fight against the Germans, but as a result of a complicated situation in the Russian Partition and outbreak of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the forces were directed against the Red Guards. On February 4th, 1918, Father Jachimowski assumed command of the brigade from the injured Colonel Konarzewski and successfully ended the battle with the Bolsheviks at Toloshchitsa, east of Bobruisk. General Gustaw Ostapowicz, commander of the 1st Polish Rifle Regiment, in recognition of his abilities and heroic attitude, requested Father Jachimowski to be awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari. He did not receive it. After signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Germans decided to dismantle the unit and disarmed it in May 1918. After the demobilization of the Corps, Father Jachimowski received the post of prefect of a middle school in Miechów until November 1918.
After Poland regained independence he entered the Polish Army, where he was first the chaplain of the Military District in Miechów, and from December the Dean of the General District Command in Kielce. He was then appointed the head of the organisational department in the Ministry of Military Affairs responsible for the creation of field pastoral structures in the Second Polish Republic. On March 3rd, 1919 office was dissolved and replaced with the Bishop Military Ordinate of Poland, headed by Bishop Stanisław Gall. In April 1919, Bishop Gall appointed Father Jachimowski as the first chancellor of the Military Ordinariate of Poland. He was the bishop’s closest associate. His tasks included creating regulations for military pastors and establishing garrison parishes.
Father Jachimowski’s work was not limited to fulfilling his duties at the Polish Bishop’s Curia. He was the editor of The Polish Soldier [Polish: Żołnierz Polski] and the founder and editor-in-chief of the periodical Quarterly devoted to the matters of the Catholic Military Pastoral Ministry in Poland [Polish: Kwartalnik poświęcony sprawom Katolickiego Duszpasterstwa Wojskowego w Polsce], published between 1931-1934. He also was awarded PhD in philosophy from the Faculty of Catholic Theology at the University of Warsaw and taught homiletics at the Higher Metropolitan Seminary in Warsaw. After the conflict between Bishop Gall and Marshal Józef Piłsudski and the resignation of the dignitary, there was no future for Father Jachimowski in the curia. In 1934, Father Jachimowski left the army and retired. In the same year, he accepted the post of Vice-Rector at St. Anne’s Church on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street and chaplain to the academic community. In 1936, he became the chief chaplain of the ‘Sokół’ Society. He wrote a famous prayer book entitled Soldier of Christ [Polish: Żołnierz Chrystusowy].
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Father Jachimowski was in Warsaw and took part in the defence of the capital, attending to the wounded and organizing funerals. He took part in extinguishing the fire at St. Anne’s Church. In October 1939 he was arrested by Gestapo and imprisoned at the Pawiak. On March 31st, 1940 he was released from prison and returned to St. Anne’s Church, where he became the rector. He took part in underground secretly conducted education. Initially, he was the organiser and president of the Patriotic Society [Polish: Towarzystwo Patriotyczne]. From February 1943 he served in the Home Army. He held the positions of Head of the Pastoral Service of the Home Army Headquarters and Chief Chaplain of the Armed Forces in Poland. His codename was Budwicz, which was his family’s coat of arms. From Pope Pius XII, he gained facultates – special wartime privileges for the field chaplains of the Home Army. The headquarters of the secret Military Ordinariate of Poland was located in the building of the then St. Roch Hospital on 24 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. Secret meetings of the chaplains were held on Mirowski Square in the Pallotines’ building on Długa Street, as well as in the Jachimowski’s flat on Hoża Street. On July 23rd, 1943 Bishop Józef Gawlina appointed Father Jachimowski Vicar General and Deputy Bishop of the Polish Army. Budwicz also became involved in the work of the Clergy Commission, working within the structures of the Government Delegation for Poland. In 1944, he became a member of the Council of National Unity – the political organ of the Polish Underground State. As Chief Chaplain of the Home Army, he oversaw the construction and development of military chaplaincy structures on Polish lands, based to a large extent on pre-war chaplains. He drafted many documents regulating the activity of the underground chaplaincy. He also prepared the Home Army chaplains to serve during Operation Tempest [Polish: Operacja Burza] and the armed uprising. Furthermore, he published a prayer book for underground soldiers titled In the Service of Christ and the Homeland [Polish: W służbie Chrystusa i Ojczyzny].
The outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising took many chaplains by surprise. The late order did not reach everyone, and some clergymen didn’t manage to arrive at their positions. The outbreak found Father Jachimowski in Elektoralna Street, as a result of which he was deprived of contact with the Home Army Headquarters, stationed in Kamler’s factory in Wola, district of Warsaw. He was also cut off from District Headquarters on Jasna Street. Even though he couldn’t join the military structures, he exercised his pastoral ministry in the basement of the house at 47 Elektoralna Street. He arranged a chapel there, where he prayed and heard confessions of both civilians and insurgents. On August 7th, when the Germans already occupied the whole of Wola, Jachimowski received an order to leave his earlier place of stay and join the insurgent units concentrating around courts’ buildings. Budwicz delayed his departure, because he wanted to confess all those in need, and then the Germans broke into the basement. All men dragged out of the building were led to be shot. The priest only managed to take the Blessed Sacrament with him. Then, he was led out separately. When one soldier was aiming at Budwicz, the secretary of the chaplain alias Mir, begged another German, who observed the scene with compassion, to save the priest. She explained the priest had the Blessed Sacrament with him. Eventually, the soldier ordered Budwicz to join a group of civilians who had been rushed through the city. In the area of Chłodna Street, Father Jachimowski managed to leave the Blessed Sacrament in St. Andrew’s Church. The night of 7th August, Budwicz spent with civilians in St. Wojciech Church on Wolska Street. On August 8th, the whole group went in the direction of the railway ramp in Wola. In the marching column, one of the guards saw the priest, dragged him out of the line, and shot him on the spot. The body of Father Tadeusz Jachimowski was never found. The symbolic grave of the Chief Chaplain of the Home Army is located in the Powązki Military Cemetery.
Father Tadeusz Jachimowski was awarded the Cross of Valour and the Commander’s Cross Polonia Restituta.
Translate: Sandra Liwanowska
- Dziennik Rozkazów Wojskowych, 1919, R. 2, nr 28
- Dziennik Rozkazów Ministerstwa Spraw Wojskowych, nr 11, poz.
- Zasada Stanisław, Duch’44. Duchowi przywódcy powstania warszawskiego, Kraków 2018
- Odziemkowski Janusz, Służba duszpasterska Wojska Polskiego 1914-1945, Warszawa: Dom Wydawniczy Bellona, 1998
- „Gdy zaczniemy walczyć miłością…”. Portrety kapelanów powstania warszawskiego, red. Grzegorz Górny, Aleksander Kopiński, Warszawa 2004
- Wardzyński Michał, Szpital św. Rocha przy Krakowskim Przedmieściu i jego architektoniczne przemiany w XVIII-XX wieku, ,, Almanach Warszawy”, nr 12, 2018, p. 189-216
- Tadeusz Jachimowski, https://www.1944.pl/powstancze-biogramy/tadeusz-jachimowski,12348.html (retrieved September 5th, 2020)
- Jeden z wielu, [One of many, own translation] https://www.tygodnikpowszechny.pl/jeden-z-wielu-123623 (retrieved September 5th, 2020).
- Warszawski powstaniec z ziemi kieleckiej, [A Warsaw insurgent from Kielce region, own translation], https://www.niedziela.pl/artykul/30381/nd/Warszawski-powstaniec-z-ziemi-kieleckiej (retrieved September 7th, 2020).
- Śmierć nie jest końcem – o kapelanach powstania warszawskiego, [Death is not the end – about the chaplains of the Warsaw Uprising, own translation], https://misyjne.pl/smierc-nie-jest-koncem-o-kapelanach-powstania-warszawskiego/, (retrieved September 9th, 2020).