Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wlodimir (Vladimir) Ledochowski 1915 Photo


Here is the first authentic photograph of the new general of the Jesuits which has reached Baltimore.

The new general, now in his forty-ninth year, is a member of that old house of the Austro-Polish aristocracy which forms part of the “Uradel”, that is to say, the origin of his nobility antedates the dawn of history. The late Cardinal Ledochowski was a member of this family. Countess Ledochowski who founded the St. Peter Claver Society for African missions, is Father Ledochowski’s sister. Father Ledochowski was born on October 8, 1866, a son of Count Anthony Ledochowski, a cavalry officer in the Austrian Army. The family came from Russian Poland.

As a boy the subsequent churchman was a page to the court of the late Empress Elizabeth of Austria. He entered the noviate of the Society of Jesus [sic] at Flarabies, Galicia, on September 24, 1889, and was ordained to the priesthood in Jine, 1894. He became a member of the staff of writers in the Ulica-Grodzka. In 1898 Father Ledochowski became superior of the Grodzka. On February 21, 1902, he was appointed provincial for Poland, and the last week in February, 1915, was elected general of the Jesuits.

When the new “Black Pope” was yet a lad he witnessed the persecution and imprisonment of his uncle, the late Cardinal Ledochowski, who had estates in German Poland, and whom Bismarck regarded with mingled fear and hatred as the leader of the persecuted Poles in Germany.

On their Russian estates, the Ledochowskis, who own vast estates in Lithuania, were persecuted by the Russians, who were anxious to make them and other influential Polish families renounce Rome in favor of Moscow. Many a time as a boy and young man Father Ledochowski heard mass in a secret chamber said by a Jesuit priest who reached his father’s estate disguised as a Jewish peddler. Many a time, at the sound of approaching soldiers, was the service suspended. Often it was held in a barn, with a few faithful Catholic peasants, who had walked miles at great peril.

One of his sisters is head of a convent in Rome, and many members of his family spend their time there. Now, however, however, they are either fighting or nursing in the military hospitals.

Like all Jesuits, Father Ledochowski is a man of profound learning. He is an eloquent preacher, speaking equally well Polish, French and German.

The Rev. A.J. Mass, S.J., Provincial of the Maryland- New York Provincial was one of the electors of the new general. He is at present the guest of the Rev. Joseph Hanselman, president of Woodstock College, Woodstock, Md.

From a Baltimore newspaper dated April 17, 1915.

Wlodimir (Vladimir) Ledochowski: Mission, Motivation, Geopolitical Chessboard

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