Posted in Film, History, Poland, world history

The Jewish Cardinal–a French film

Le métis de Dieu (The Jewish Cardinal)[2013]

I saw this film yesterday on the French channel. It introduced me to Aaron Jean-Marie Lustager [17 September 1926 – 5 August 2007], born a Jew, who insisted on converting to Christianity at the age of 13,  and became a bishop, archbishop, and later cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. His mother died in Auschwitz-Birkenau, his father was never reconciled to his conversion, and Lustiger himself could not forget his Jewish origin.

This historical film also looks at aspects of the history of France,  Poland under the communist regime, the attitude of the pope, and the conflicts over the Auschwitz cross, and the occupation of a part of Auschwitz by nuns.

Here is the epitaph that he wrote for himself, enshrined in the crypt of the Notre-Dame cathedral.

‘I was born Jewish.
I received the name
Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron.
Having become Christian
By faith and by Baptism,
I have remained Jewish
As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers-by, pray for me.’

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archbishop of Paris

For someone like myself, interested in both history and religion, the film was fascinating. There is a lot on Lustiger available on the internet for those who would like to read more about him.

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Posted in Chopin, History, Music, Poland

Chopin and Poland

 

Yesterday, on Japan TV, [NHK news channel] I came across a one hour class on Chopin’s mazurkas, recorded at the Royal Academy of Music. The teacher, an attractive young woman, whose name I did not get, was playing extracts from the mazurkas on a Steinway grand piano. She was an expert pianist, and held the students spellbound with her playing and her commentary and explanations.

And as I had just been thinking about the division of countries, my thoughts turned not just to Chopin and his music, but to the history of Poland, that country so often partitioned.  Chopin was born on 4 March  1810, in Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw. His father was a French immigrant and his mother, Polish. What was the situation in Warsaw at the time?

By 1795 Poland had ceased to exist after three partitions led to its occupation by Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Napoleon, though, brought hope to Poland, promising to revive the nation. After his defeat, by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, a new small kindom of Poland was created, out of part of the duchy of Warsaw, with the Russian emperor as the king. Krakow became a city republic, but the rest of Poland was again divided between Russia, Austria and Prussia.

Poland began a movement for independence, but after a brief success, was taken over again by Russia.  Independence came again only after World War I.

Chopin moved to Vienna in 1829, and to Paris in 1831, but his heart was with Poland, and his compositions were influenced by the music of Poland. With the revolutions in Europe in 1848, he went to Scotland and England, but returned to Paris, where he died on 17 October 1849, of tuberculosis. In this short life he composed 55 mazurkas, 27 études, 24 preludes, 19 nocturnes, 13 polonaises,  3 piano sonatas and some concertos.

Another later great Polish pianist, Ignace Paderewski, was valued so highly, that he even became the prime minister for a short time in the newly independent Poland!