Our goal is to document and disseminate achievements of the Polish Brethren religio-social movement from the period of the sixteenth to eighteenth century. (Naszym celem jest dokumentowanie i upowszechnianie dorobku Braci Polskich ruchu religijno–społecznego z okresu XVI–XVIII wieku)
SZLAK BRACI POLSKICH Association
Polish Brethrens’ Trail Society
– www.szlakbracipolskich.pl has many objectives, among them:
- Collecting and archiving all available historical data and information about Polish Brethren in XVI-XVIII centuries.
- Scientific research related to the Polish Brethren.
- Support for actions that promote knowledge about the achievements of the Polish Brethren.
- Promotion of historical places, buildings and objects related to the Polish Brethren.
Polish Brethren represented not only people of a specific religious group. They represented also the socio-cultural formation which attracted many progressive and highly educated people to the Kingdom of Poland for almost a hundred of years in 16th century.
Polish Antitrinitarianism developed in the years 1562-1563, from a split in the Reformed (Calvinist) Church of Little Poland in Southeast Poland. The group of believers who left the existing church were called a “Lesser Church” (ecclesia minor) to distinguish them from the remaining “Greater Church” (ecclesia maior). The members of the “Lesser Church” called themselves “Christians” or “Polish brethren”.
Polish Arianism in Poland was significantly influenced by foreigners, mainly Italians, who found in Poland a safe place to avoid the religious persecution in their home countries. In the beginning, Polish Arianism was not structurally or ideologically homogeneous. There were many formations (sects) united only by a rejection of the Holy Trinity dogma. The rejection of the Trinity clearly differentiating them from other Christian sects and eventually sujected them to massive counterattacks. After many debates and research they developed a uniform Anti-Trinitarian position that united them until the expulsion in 1658.
Fausto Paolo Sozzini, also known under his Latin name: Faustus Socinus, 1539-1604, was an Italian theologian, who settled in Poland. He is credited for the unification of the Antitrinitarians in Poland, both structurally and ideologically. After Sozzini died, Polish Brethrens were often called Socinians. The Polish Brethren supported rationalism, social justice and fraternity. They supported religious tolerance, national culture and education and were opposed to feudal injustice.
The Polish Brethren were disbanded in 1658 by the Sejm (Polish Parliament). They were ordered to convert to Roman Catholicism or leave Poland.
In the USA Prof. Marian Hillar studies the influence of Polish Socinians on the American Constitution. You can read his study in English:
Polish Brethren Society achieves their goals through several projects:
The first project of its kind, it’s purpose is to collect, computerize and foster public access to the information and historical memorabilia that are still available. The Polish Brethren sect was called “Polish faith”, with disdain. This suggests it had Polish roots but refugees from Western Europe played a significant role.
Information Website: www.szlakbracipolskich.prv.pl
– Contains information about the places related to the Polish Brethren, their bibliography, works and actions in Poland and abroad; their social and religious research and historical background. It includes the biographical information about important people in the Polish Brethren community.
Film Studio “Polish Brethren”: http://www.youtube.com/user/SzlakBraciPolskich – documentary of the historical locations, sites and objects related to Polish Brethren.
The Polish Brethren Trail – a professional route prepared to help tourists visit all the Polish Brethren historical sites and to view memorabilia from the XVI – XVIII centuries related to the Polish Brethren. The trail also includes other historical objects important for the reformation and world history.
Our society, www.stowarzyszenieszlakbracipolskich.prv.pl, carries on many other activities documentating and popularizing the achievements of the Polish Brethren.
At the present time, all Internet websites are only available in Polish. We hope to add an English version thanks to the sponsors. We do have a Facebook page.
The center of our activities is located in Swietokrzyski province, since it has a concentration of post-Arian historical objects. In the XVI century the whole region of river Nida was covered with a network of Arian chapels, schools and libraries. The town Pińczów became a center of the Arian (Polish Brethren) movement between the 60s of XVI century until 1586. In addition to an Arian chapel it had a library, archives and a printing house managed by Daniel of Łęczyca. After Piotr Myszkowski, Bishop of Krakow bought this town, he removed the Polish Brethren from Pinczów.
The Arian’s cultural center then moved to Raków, a town established in 1569 by Jan Sienienski. Already in 1575 a printing house was opened there. In 1602 the famous Raków Academy was established. The efforts of Jakub Zadzik, bishop of Kraków caused the closing of Polish Brethen’s activities in Raków. The last location of Arian’s in Poland was in Czarkowy, which belonged to the Moskorzowski’s family. In 1659 the last secret synod took place there.
Robert J. Paliga
Robert P. Płaski
Edited for posting:
February 28, 2011, by Jim Nugent