Jan Swierc and his 8 companions (martiri polacchi del 1941-1942)

Beginning of diocesan process on September 17, 2003. Vice postulatore: Fr Michal Szafarski.

Came to Valsalice for studies

Jan Swierc was born to Matthew and Francesca Rother at Królewska Huta, in Upper Silesia, on April 29, 1877. Thanks to the well-known Salesian Institute at Valsalice he came to Italy for his secondary studies.

He asked to become a Salesian and began his novitiate at Ivrea. In Turin he took up his philosophical and theological studies. June 6, 1903 he was ordained priest in Turin by Cardinal Richelmy.

Returns to Poland as a Salesian priest

Back in Poland, he began his Salesian teaching activity with much diligence and care, proving his excellent ability and virtue as a Religious. He was the first Rector at Oswiecim, then in other Salesian Houses in Poland.

Provincial Councillor for the rest of his life

He was a provincial councillor from the first moment the Council was set up and until his death. Fr Jan was an exemplary Salesian and Religious, loved the Congregation and Don Bosco, and showed that he possessed its spirit completely. He was especially known for his prudence. The most difficult and delicate matters were entrusted to him.

Arrested by Gestapo, imprisoned

On May 23, 1941, while Rector and Parish priest in Krakow-Debniki, he was arrested with other Confreres by the Gestapo and taken to the prisons in Krakow.

Interned at Auschwitz; reputation for holiness

He was then taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. On the 27th of June 1941 Fr Jan was cruelly tortured and killed by a German soldier because he was a priest, and because he would not cease calling on the name of Jesus. He was 64 years old, 42 years professed and 38 years as a priest. We can add that he left a reputation for holiness of life, quite apart from his martyrdom.

Others martyred with him at Auschwitz included:

Fr Ignacy Antonowicz: born 1890 at Wieslawice, Rector of the Seminary at Kraków, died July 21 1941 in the concentration camp hospital;

Fr Ignacy Dobiasz: born in 1880 in Ciochowice, was killed on June 27, 1941 in the gravel pits;

Fr Karol Golda: born 1914 in Tychy, was condemned to death for hearing the confessions of German soldiers; his execution took place on the May 14, 1942;

Fr Franciszek Harazim: born 1885 in Osiny, he died on June 27, 1941, also killed in the gravel pits;

Fr Ludwik Mroczek: born 1905 in Kety, died in the hospital at Auschwitz on January 6, 1942;

Fr Wlodzimierz Szembek: born 1883 in Poreba Zegoty, died in the concentration camp on September 22, 1942;

Fr Kazimierz Wojciechowski: born 1904, died on June 27, 1941, killed while working in the gravel pits. 

Fr Franciszek Miska was also part of the group: born December 5, 1898 at Swierczyniec, in Upper Silesia, he was the Rector at Jaciazek and then at Lad, interned in the concentration camp at Dachau, he died through malnourishment and torture on May 30, 1942.