This 3.7m high statue to Father Henryk Jankowski stands in a square named after the controversial priest and was unveiled in 2012 two years after his death. Born in 1936 in nearby Starogard Gdański, Father Jankowski came to the fore during the Solidarność (Solidarity) strikes of the 1980s when he strongly supported the striking workers and their leader Lech Wałęsa. He was the parish priest of the nearby St Bridget’s church which became the parish church of the Solidarność movement and he was given the title of Solidarity chaplain. As well as celebrating masses for the workers at the shipyard, Father Jankowski walked a thin line with the communist authorities with his outspoken sermons from the pulpit and his high profile support of the union particularly during the years it was banned in the early 1980s.
Later in life Father Jankowski’s outspoken style got him into trouble with the new government for comments he made about the European Union and then with the Roman Catholic authorities who eventually banned him from preaching for a year in 1997 after a series of anti-Semitic comments made from the pulpit. Father Jankowski was replaced as rector of St Bridget’s in 2004 and spent the last years of his life fighting diabetes while at the same time never straying too far from the headlines because of what some saw as his flamboyant lifestyle. He was accused of having abused a minor (which he denied and for which the investigation was dropped) and become very active commercially putting his image to a range of wine called ‘Monsignore’ and by revealing plans to release his own perfume and open a chain of cafes around the country to help generate money for the Henryk Jankowski Institute.
Despite the controversy that surrounded him in the years following the fall of communism, Father Jankowski retained many admirers (including local bakers the Pellowski family) who organised a fund to create the statue you see today. Based on a clay model made by his friend Giennadij Jerszów who donated his work for free, the statue reputedly cost as little as 100,000zł because most of the skilled work was donated free of charge. The three crosses you see on the priest’s chest represent the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers found on Solidarity Square.
St. Bridget's Church
ul. Profesorska 17, Gdańsk