Editor's Desk: Honoring Jan de Rosen

World-renowned muralist Jan Henryk de Rosen, a former member of the Cathedral Parish of St. Thomas More in Arlington who died in 1982, will be featured in a special project undertaken by the American Council for Polish Culture. The council wants to erect a monument at the Avenue of the Meritorious in the cemetery of the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pa. The monument is being designed by Gordon Kray, the sculptor whose works in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington include a bust of Pope John Paul II and a statue of the Blessed Mother. Kray’s work also can be found in Harper’s Ferry, Charlottesville and the University of William and Mary in Williamsburg. The Polish-born de Rosen’s best-known work in the United States is his design of the mosaic "Christ in Majesty" at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was featured on the HERALD’s Easter cover on April 12. Two of his murals are in the private papal chapel at Castelgandolfo, the pope’s summer residence. He has other works in St. Louis, Buffalo, Memphis, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. A distinguished artist both here and abroad, de Rosen was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1891. He received early schooling in France and later studied at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. He returned to France where he wrote poetry for French magazines. De Rosen was a decorated World War I veteran, serving in both the French and Polish armies following the outbreak of war in 1914. He served as attach? to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, renowned pianist and Poland’s first premier, after Poland gained independence following the Treaty of Versailles. His father, Jan de Rosen, Sr., was court painter for Russian Czars Alexander II and Nicholas II. His grandmother, Mary Weaver, was related to English painter Thomas Weaver. De Rosen arrived in the United States in 1937 at the invitation of Count Jerzy Potocki, Poland’s ambassador to the United States. Unable to return to Poland following the outbreak of the World War II, de Rosen taught liturgical art at the Catholic University of America, where he received a doctor of human letters. He was decorated with medals of honor by the Polish, French and British governments. At age 87, he was inducted into the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great in a private ceremony at St. Thomas More Cathedral on Aug. 12, 1978. Former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh bestowed the honor on de Rosen, assisted by Msgr. Richard J. Burke, Cathedral rector. The Order of St. Gregory was founded in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI to honor distinguished citizens of the Papal States. Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, former Polish primate, recommended de Rosen’s enrollment to Pope Paul VI. Cardinal William Baum, former archbishop of Washington, carried the certificate to the United States. De Rosen died Aug. 22, 1982, at Northern Virginia Doctor’s Hospital in Falls Church. Bishop Welsh celebrated the funeral Mass on Sept. 2 at the Cathedral. Msgr. Eugene G. Bilski, former director of the National Shrine, was the homilist. A list of known works by de Rosen is being compiled. Any church or building in the Washington area containing a work by the artist should send the information to ACPC, de Rosen Memorial, c/o Mary Flanagan, 1721 Forest Lane, McLean, Va. 22101-3323.— M.F.F.

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001