75 YEARS THE POLISH SECTION OF THE VATICAN RADIO
Guglielmo Marconi was a fervent Catholic and really wanted the radio – the work of his life serve to evangelization. Also Pius XI thought that the Church in its activity must use modern mass media. Having signed Lateran Treaties in 1929, under which the Vatican State was established, it was possible to build an independent papal radio station – Marconi himself was running the works on starting it. On 12 February 1931, for the first time, Pope stood at the radio microphone and made a historic speech 'Omni Creaturae', thus initiating the activity of his radio station. Truly speaking, in the beginning this radio was serving for communication between the Vatican city and the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, and later, in next years it started broadcasting in the world. It became possible in 1937 thanks to installed a relay of the Telefunken company at that time.
From the beginning, the Vatican Radio was broadcasting papal messages in various languages – in 1931 the Polish language was heard on air of the papal radio station, when Fr. Tadeusz Zakrzewski preached the message of Pius XI in our language, on the occasion of the 40 years of existence of the encyclical 'Rerum novarum' of Leon XIII. At that time the great role in the Radio development was played by the Superior Father of the Jesus’ Society at that time, Fr. Włodzimierz Ledóchowski SJ, who received the management of the radio station from the Pope. Fr. Ledóchowski delegated a group of the Jesuits to work in the Radio, whose task was to prepare a special information service in basic European languages – it was started to be broadcast from the mid of 1938. Fr. Ledóchowski was striving for Pope’s permission to establish the Polish programme. Pius XI, the former apostolic visitator and a nuncio in reborn Poland, was very kind to Poles, therefore he agreed to the suggestion of the Superior. A Jesuit Fr. Feliks Lasoń and Fr. Józef Młodochowski, a rector of the Papal Polish Institute in Rome were appointed to work on polish transmissions. Unfortunately, Fr. Lasoń fell ill with a serious illness and not earlier than on 24 November 1938 he could celebrate the Holy Mass on Radio and broadcast the first permanent radio programme in Polish language. Therefore, this date is considered as a date of establishment of the Polish Section of the Vatican Radio. On the occasion of 75 years of the activity of the papal Polish Section of the radio station, Pope Francis met with radio employees at a special audience in the House of St. Martha on 14 November 2013. For me it was also an occasion to talk with the director of the Radio, Fr. Leszek Gęsiak SJ, about history and today of the Polish Section of the Vatican Radio.