Poles Transplant Custom In Borough Park Parish

by Antonina Zielinska

The St. Francis de Chantel Polish Honor Guard erects a statue of Jezus Frasobliwy. Father Andrzej Kurowski, S.A.C., pastor, is standing bottom left.

In the midst of Lenten preparations, the Polish community of St. Frances de Chantal parish, Borough Park, has erected a statue of Jezus Frasobliwy in the backyard of its church, continuing a tradition practiced in Poland since the beginning of the 16th century.
In English, the statue is often referred to as the Pensive Jesus. However, the Polish word “frasobliwy” can be more closely translated as “meditative concern.”
Although there have been many variations of the statue over the past several centuries, the message continues to be Jesus meditating upon His crucifixion and His concern for the sake of humanity. Jesus is portrayed sitting with a crown of thorns, resting His head on His arm, and His elbow resting on His knee. Most often, He is stripped of His outer garments.
Traditionally the statue depicted a scene from the Way of the Cross. Jesus is waiting for the Roman soldiers to dig a hole, in which to raise the Messiah’s cross. This image was first seen in northern Germany in the 14th century. It became especially popular in Silesia, Pomerania, Lithuania, and then Poland.
When the Vatican established the official Way of the Cross, this scene was removed. However, the statue continued to be important in Polish folk culture.
The statue, carved of wood or rock, was a sign of Jesus’ humanity for the people of the parishes throughout the villages of Poland. They carved Him in the way they carved their own folk heroes, with no sign of pain or anxiety on His face, with rugged features, and a strong muscular body. In essence, they depict Jesus as a man with true concern for His brothers and sisters.
Father Andrzej Kurowski, S.A.C., pastor of St. Frances de Chantal, wanted to bring this bit of Polish heritage to Borough Park. He wanted to remind his parishioners that Jesus has a personal connection to each individual.
“Jesus is watching you, meditating about you,” he said.
The pastor said the statue brings an important message to think about during Lent. Jesus wanted to succeed in His mission for the sake of His people. The statue is also a reminder that Jesus is continuously concerned for His people.
A congregation of about 2,000 were able to witness as the parish’s honor guard hung a wooden Jezus Frasobliwy carved by Marek Słabczynski, in the church’s backyard.

Above is a display of Father Kurowski’s personal collection of Jezus Frasobliwy statues, which were exhibited during the St. Francis de Chantel parish mission.

One thought on “Poles Transplant Custom In Borough Park Parish

  1. This was my parish Church from 1940 to 1955. It was a warm church centered parish. I also attended the old school from 1940-1948, never having attended the new school but was able to contribute to its building fund. I am pleased to see that it now is in the hands of alike group of people who promote a church centered program.