On occasion of a Roman exhibition Włodzimierz Redzioch talks with Marta Dzbenska – Karpinska While in Vatican synodal fathers are debating on the issues of family, in the aula of John Paul II near the Roman church of St. Stanisław, one can see a photographic exhibition ‘Mothers: brave or crazy?’ by Marta Dzbeńska-Karpińska. Organizers of the event are the Polish church of St. Stanisław and the Centre of Thoughts of John Paul II in Warsaw. The honourable patronage of the exhibition was taken over by Piotr Nowina-Konopka – an ambassador of the Polish Republic for the Holy See and archbishop Stanisław Gądecki – the metropolitan of Poznań and the chairperson of the Polish Episcopal Conference. The solemn opening of the exhibition took place on 8 October 2015. The exhibition and a book accompanying it, with the same title, show history of 22 women who risked their health or life in order to give birth to their children. So, this is history of the greatness of motherly love which gives strength to make often heroic decisions.

WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - How did the idea of the book and exhibition ‘Mothers: brave or crazy’ appear?

MARTA DZBEŃSKA-KARPIŃSKA: - Everything started when, as a 14-year-old girl, I accidentally heard a talk of women about an Italian doctor who decided to give birth to her fourth child, although she had to pay for it with her own life. Many years later I found out what that doctor’s name was- it was Joanna Beretta Molla, a wife and mother, canonized by John Paul II in 2004. This story fell deeply in my memory. Later there were new inspirations – mothers’ stories written in newspapers, who had devoted their lives so that their children could live. I started thinking whether there were women who had taken such a risk but whose stories had a happy ending. I asked my acquaintances about it, sent hundreds of emails – but without any respond. However, after some time everything got unblocked – I think that it was an intervention from ‘up’. I received a lot of information and started travelling across Poland. Women whom I managed to meet, created two groups: in the first one there were those who, despite their disability or an illness, really wanted to become mothers and consciously took such a risk, whereas the second one were women who had fallen ill during their pregnancy or being ill, had an unplanned pregnancy and started a fight for theirs and their child’s life.

- Referring to the title of the book and the exhibition, I would like to ask the question: Making a decision about continuing pregnancy, despite the opinions and advise of doctors is more a bravery or craziness?

- This kind of decisions are motivated both by bravery and craziness. When I was travelling I met various people – among them there were women who had strong faith and those who were atheist, as well as people of different religions. But they treat all stories are about craziness of love – as in order to make such decisions, one needs love which is not only a feeling but also emotion, as well as responsibility. Humankind also exists thanks to courage and heroism of such women.

- Why has the Roman exhibition been opened just now?

- The date is not accidental, because on these days there is a synod about family in Rome. Last year, when its first part was taking place and we heard worrying voices from Vatican that during debates there are discussions not about what really interests families, one of women, about whom I write, told me: ‘Marta, it would be good for us to be near the synod’. And it became my inspiration to send the exhibition about mothers to Rome. I could realize it thanks to help of many people.

- What is the premise of the exhibition, also in the context of bishops’ synod?

- The most important premise is that we should protect human life and family, and it is worth showing its beauty and strengthen people in what is good.


„Niedziela” 42/2015

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: