Forefathers’ Eve at Bujwida…

…or a night tour of the cemetery of St. Lawrence at Odona Bujwida Street. An unusual tour of this extraordinary cemetery, considered a pantheon of great Wrocław residents, was initiated in November 2018. What did it look like back then?

Darkness all around, silence all around, what will happen, what will happen?” We are going to participate in THANATOWALKING, i.e. an unusual way of learning about the history of Wrocław through the prism of many micro-stories hidden in cemetery walls and tombstones. With the torches and candles which you bring, we will walk down the alleys of this over a hundred years old little necropolis. We will find not only the post-war graves of famous figures, but also the graves of those who were buried here before 1945. We will pray together for all of them. The history of this cemetery begins in a different place and much earlier than it may seem, so during the walk we will talk briefly about other, mostly no longer existing, cemeteries in Wrocław – announced in the fall of 2018 the organisers, i.e. the “Wawrzyny” University Chaplaincy Centre. – We have a specific goal. We want to show the students who come to our chaplaincy centre from all over Poland that the cemetery they pass by so often has an extraordinary history related to the people who are buried there, whose biographies were extraordinary – said Wiesław Wowk, the president of the Association of Friends of the “Wawrzyn” UCC at the time.

The night tour around the cemetery was led by Kamilla Jasińska, co-author of the guide to this necropolis, and the common prayer for the deceased was led by Rev. Paweł Cembrowicz, parish priest of the cathedral parish managing the cemetery.

The turnout at this first night tour exceeded the organisers’ wildest expectations. On Tuesday, 6 November 2018, after 6:00 p.m., the first guests began to gather at the main gate of the cemetery. About a quarter of an hour before 7 p.m., it was decided that the small sound system typically used by city guides would not be enough for the guide, so a professional sound system was quickly organised – the kind used during the Wrocław Walking Pilgrimage to Jasna Góra or during various processions. When the tour started, the group numbered over 200 people! Among them were not only students, to whom the event was mainly addressed, but also entire families with children, young people, the elderly, priests and nuns.

Forefathers’ Eve at Bujwida, or a night tour of the cemetery of St. Lawrence at Odona Bujwida Street. Photo by Damian Mrozek

Each of us usually has their own unique places at the cemeteries we visit. On this or any other. I also have my own places, unique in various respects, and not at all related to my family, because none of my relatives are buried here – Kamilla Jasińska began her speech before the main gate. – Today I will take you for a walk around my places, but these will be the places which are very representative of this necropolis. Representative in various respects, mainly because of the people buried there, but also because of the prism of the history of Wrocław. Because what is the history of Wrocław if not a component of many micro-histories, the histories of those who created this city, rebuilt it after the destruction of war, educated several generations of intelligentsia, set the tone for this city not only in the post-war decades, but also in the earlier ones. Unfortunately, we have few traces of these earlier times here – the guide continued.

The tour, full of stories about the people resting at the cemetery of St. Lawrence, took three hours (although only two hours were planned) and it would probably have lasted longer if it weren’t for the quiet hours.

Forefathers’ Eve at Bujwida, or a night tour of the cemetery of St. Lawrence at Odona Bujwida Street. Photo by Damian Mrozek

A television coverage of the event is available on the TVP3 Wrocław website in the Drogi wiary programme from 10 November 201 LINK [from 4:40 to 6:54 of the programme’s duration].

The next night tour took place a year later – on Friday, 15 November 2019 at 7:00 p.m., and was equally well attended. Unfortunately, in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic interrupted this tradition. However, the organisers intend to bring it back in November 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *