Warsaw: Worshippers in the capital of ultra-Catholic Poland finally celebrated the consecration of the city’s highest church on Friday — after a mere 225 years of waiting.
The cornerstone of the enormous Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw was laid in 1792 but its halting progress since has mirrored turbulent Polish history.
Just a few days after construction started, Russian troops invaded Poland and Polish independence was soon a distant memory.
The project was enthusiastically resurrected after World War I but Hitler’s invading army put a stop to it in 1939.
Once again, Catholic Church bosses tried to revamp the project after Hitler’s defeat but this time it was blocked by the Communist authorities.
Only when the Berlin Wall fell could Poland’s religious authorities seek to celebrate their new-found freedom by starting again.
The perseverance paid off on Friday with an inaugural Mass attended by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and President Andrzej Duda.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki cited Poland’s beloved former pope John Paul II in calling for a “responsible” use of their freedom and warning against the “arrogance of power.”
The most recent building work began in 2003 and was mainly financed by some 50 million euros ($54 million) in private donations from around 100,000 people.
However, even after 225 years, the work is not yet over with some painting unfinished and stained-glass windows not yet fixed. Seven million euros more are required in donations to complete the job.
The building is not universally popular with its enormous rotunda earning it the unwelcome nickname of the “giant lemon juicer”.
The final version is packed with modern touches such as ultra-fine acoustics in the main hall, which will also be used for concerts.
The lighting can also be changed to reflect different periods of the liturgical calendar.