MOMOTY – A TINY HOMELAND
Momoty is a village located in southeastern Poland, nearby a small town called Janów Lubelski. In the beginning, Momoty was known by the name of Grójec or Gruje. Its existence goes back to a tar plant which was located here in 1695. The tiny industrial centre eventually developed into an agricultural hamlet in the second half of the 18th century.
In the first half of the 19th century Momoty already had a sawmill, a mill, a tavern, a brickyard, and a fulling mill. Also, a farm was started here. In 1827, the village was inhabited by 160 people. It was also divided up into two parts – Momoty Dolne (the Lower Momoty) and Momoty Górne (the Upper Momoty).
In 1938, Count Zamoyski, who was a co-owner of these lands, offered a piece of land for the purpose of building a chapel, so that a priest from Janów Lubelski could regularly come and celebrate a Holy Mass for the people of Momoty.
In the last days of 1939, an important military event took place in an area neighbouring with the village. It was the last concentration and mobilization of troops of the Polish Army which belonged to the unit under the command of colonel Tadeusz Zieleniewski. On 30th September, around the villages Momoty, Krzemień and Flisy the last Polish Army units left in Poland met and fought with the Soviet tanks and the motorized infantry.
Momoty Górne was one of the places most protruding west, and in 1939 an uneven battle with the Soviet Russians took place around here. However, by now Poland was trapped between two powerful agressors: the Nazi Germans in the west and the Sovet Russians in the east. No matter how brave and eager the soldiers, their fighting was doomed to fail. Therefore, when the Russians presented a favourable agreement for disarmament of the Polish units, the commanders decided to surrender. (The soldiers were let free, but the commanders were taken into captivity and nearly all of them were later murdered in Soviet camps in Starobielsk, Ostaszków and Katyń).
It was in Momoty that on the 1st
October 1939 colonel Zieleniewski wrote his last command starting with the
words: “Soldiers! Our squad is the very last unit of the Polish Army still
fighting in Poland…”
During the German occupation, the village was a refuge for the partisan troops who hid in the surrounding forests, especially the NOW-AK Unit of Commander Father Jan. In retaliation for the actions of the partisans, many inhabitants were murdered and the villages were pacified several times. This means they were burnt and many people were shot dead.
One such event took place on 28th November 1939, when the Germans shot 19 people dead in Momoty Dolne. There is a memorial plate on which the names and the ages of all the killed during the war are inscribed. Behind the church, there are a few graves from those years.
On 4th July 1944, the Germans shot, among other people, Father Jan Klukaczyński, chancellor of the church in Momoty and at the same time the chaplain of the local partisan troops.
Over the years, religious services in Momoty were performed by the following priests: Father Jan Orzeł, Father Jan Klukaczyński, Father Szczepan Orzeł, Father Kazimierz Maścibroda, and Father Tadeusz Mioduszewski. In November of 1970 the Chapel in Momoty got a new administrator: Father Kazimierz Pińciurek.
On 9 September 1972 a new St. Adalbert Parish (Parafia Świętego Wojciecha) was created. The parish enclosed the following villages: Momoty Górne, Momoty Dolne, Kiszki, Ujście and Szewce. Father Kazimierz Pińciurek became the first pastor of the new parish.
From 1972 to 1975 the old chapel was enlarged. The presbytery was enlarged, the main nave was widened and the front with the choir was added to the church building. The renovation and enlarging of the church went on without a permit, witout plans of any kind, and with no help from professionals. The parishioners worked under the guidance of their pastor, Father Pińciurek. This brave priest initiated all this construction work and decorations without any skills in this field. He was a self-educated artist, who started with nothing but his zeal and creativity. When he finished over twenty years later, he was a professional artist who had created his own unique style admired by many architects and sculptors.
From 1975 to 1992 Father Pińciurek decorated the inside of the church. He started with the presbytery. The main altar was sculpted in the form of the hill of Golgotha, and the Blessed Sacrament was placed there. Above the tabernacle there is a cup with a Eucharist over it sending rays in all directions- showing the most important mystery present in the Church – the presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. On both sides of the main altar there are bas reliefs with the scenes of Baptism and Resurrection of Jesus.
The presbytery vault represents a sky filled with stars. On the right of the altar Pastor Pińciurek placed the relief of Mary Mother of God which he based on the miraculous painting of Mary from the Sanctuary in Janów Lubelski.
The main work of art in the nave is the Last Supper. It is a large relief placed over the rainbow arch. It is interesting to note how Father Pińciurek created this piece of art: he photographed some of his parishioners, enlared the photos, and then put them onto a sheet of paper. Finally, he transferred the images onto a piece of wood. All the apostles (with the exception of Judas) are holding their hands over the bread and wine in gesture of consecration, with Christ at the centre.
Next, Father Pińciurek initiated the decorations of the vault. He decorated it with coffers showing the Mysteries of the Rosary as well as the symbols of the Passion and Death of Christ.
The most sophisticated works of art in the church are the coffers under the choir, which portray the symbols of the Eucharist and colourful flowers.
The Stations of the Cross were placed in special recesses in the walls. Every station has a different dedication inscribed on it.
The stained-glass windows are also an interesting work of art. Father Pińciurek surrounded the colourful pieces of glass with wooden frames. One of the windows contains symbols of the seven Holy Sacraments. Another one portrays symbols of the Holy Mass.
Beside the church, right at the Weeping Fountain, Father Pińciurek built the so-called Grotto of Enslavement and above it the Grotto of Freedom. The former is a reminder of the difficult times of Poland’s partitions and also of the German and Soviet occupation. For Momoty was right on the border of the Russian and the Austrian partitions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also, it was here in this village that in 1939 the armies of the two agressors from the East and the West met. The latter is a memento of Poland regaining its political freedom after the collapse of the communist regime.
Rzymskokatolicka p.w. św. Wojciecha w Momotach Górnych