Pierwsza polska radiowa transmisja mszy świętej i towarzyszące jej okoliczności

Phonogenic Mass

Phonogenic Mass. The first Polish radio transmission of the Holy Mass and its circumstances
Adam Mickiewicz University,  Faculty of Theology, Poznan, 2013, 296 pages
ISBN 978-83-63266-81-3

During 1925-1927 the first Polish radio stations dedicated to the general audience came into existence in Warsaw, Cracow and Poznan. From the very beginning the radio transmissions of Holy Masses from the cathedral at Ostrow Tumski were the part of the broadcasting activities of the Poznan Radio. This was made possible by cardinal August Hlond, the archbishop of Gniezno and Poznan, whose decision was influenced by Father Stanisław Adamski from the Metropolitan Chapter and by the leadership of the Poznan Radio – Kazimierz Okoniewski, Franciszek Łukasiewicz and Zdzisław Marynowski.

Cardinal Hlond took the decision on radio transmissions without alignment with the Holy See and – as it turned out later – against the position of Pius XI and of the Roman curia. Pius XI’ negative opinion sent in 1927 to Prague as an answer for an inquiry of the local bishop has stopped for many years the radio transmissions of sung Holy Masses in Czechoslovakia. Still in 1936 the regular transmissions of the Holy Mass were performed only in Austria, Holland, Yugoslavia, Poland, USA, Hungary and Italy; rare and occasional transmissions took place in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain; and in Portugal there was no transmissions at all. The time consuming process of acceptance of that form of apostolate was brought forward through the practice rather than the decisions made by the Vatican.

Even the positive opinion of a theologian of the Holy Office and the Congregation of Holy Rites was not officially published. From the historical perspective one can have an impression, that the “rigidity” of the Roman curia, which does not see “the errors, the outdated forms, the needs” as described later by cardinal Hlond, was an illustration of proceedings of the Church’s offices, which were active on the radio field.

The microphone of the Poznan Radio, set up for the first time on 16th of April 1927 in the Poznan cathedral has inaugurated a long history of the Polish radio transmissions of Church liturgy, a history that lasts until today, with a break caused by the second world war, and then by the years of the communistic occupation. After the transmission of the resurrection Mass, the listeners could follow the celebrations on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday (17th and 18th of April 1927) – the first transmissions of the Holy Mass in the history of the Polish radiophony. The broadcast on 3rd of May 1927, wrongly considered so far as the first Polish radio transmission of the Holy Mass, was in fact the first Mass retransmitted by the radio stations in Warsaw and Cracow.

The Poznan transmissions has taken their place on the radio program mainly because of the one reason – they were phonogenic, live, suitable for listening. This was achieved in large part thanks to liturgical music, which was of the top level. The cathedral choir directed by Father Wacław Gieburowski has triggered audience’s excitement with the compositions of Palestrina and other excellent artists. The phonogenity was achieved also thanks to a group of experienced preachers, whose homilies became an important contribution to radio apostolate. The sermons brought the Gospel onto the radio waves, enabled the Church to fulfill her mission and also to reach her pastoral goals, especially regarding the pastoral care of the sick and elderly.

The history of archdiocese of Poznan and the history of Polish radiophony got together at the moment of birth of radio station, which was considered to be a common good for the whole society of the region – its stakeholders were exclusively local municipalities. The Poznan Radio, which was built from the scratch for public money, has taken over a responsible role of participation in the life of the local Church, and the primate of Poland and his collaborators noticed the need of liturgy and Gospel in radio program. From the historical perspective, we can assess this undertaking as a successful attempt of a friendly cooperation between the Church and social mass media, an innovative attempt with durable fruits, that stretched far behind the borders of one local Church, radio station, city and region.

The objective of this book is to shed some light on one historic moment – the events taking place in Poznan in 1927. In order to offer a complete view at the first radio transmissions of liturgy in the history of the Polish Church, the analysis of theological and canonical context connected to decisions of Roman congregations was performed. Apart from presenting already known rulings of the Vatican offices, this work considers also a votum of a theologian of the Holy Office, Father Jan Hudeček on the transmissions of Holy Mass. The research on Radio Poznan’s broadcasts allows to correct some firmly established errors in the bibliography of the subject. The first one is the wrong date of Pius XI’s approval of transmissions performed by Radio Nacional from Salamanca (1938, not 1928). The second one is the date of the first Polish transmission of Holy Mass, which took place on 17th April 1927, not 3rd of May 1927 and it was performed by the Poznan Radio.



Chapter I. Theological and canonical context of the decision on transmissions of liturgy
1. The new archbishop of Gniezno and Poznan
1.1. The election of the new archbishop of Gniezno and Poznan
1.2. The actions of archbishop August Hlond during 1926-1927
2. Decision in the context of doubts
2.1. Canonical aspect of decision on transmissions of the Holy Mass
2.2. Negative opinion of the pope and the Holy Office
2.3. Decision in relation to cultural changes
Chapter II. First Polish transmissions of liturgy
1. Broadcast station: Poznan Radio
1.1. Set up of broadcast in Poznan
1.2. Kazimierz Okoniewski
1.3. Development of the radio station and the movement of radio-animators
2. Trial broadcast of Poznan Radio
3. Transmissions of Easter Liturgy
3.1. Transmission of resurrection on 16th April 1927
3.2. First Polish transmission of Holy Mass on 17th April 1927
3.3. Transmission of Holy Mass on 18th April 1927
4. Solemn inauguration of Poznan Radio
5. Broadcast from Poznan retransmitted by the Polish Radio
5.1. Transmission of Holy Mass on 3rd of May 1927
5.2. Transmissions from cathedra as a fixed item on the program
6. Formal decision on transmissions of Holy Masses
6.1. Decree of Primate of Poland
6.2. Role of Father Stanisław Adamski
7. Financial and technical difficulties
8. Exceptional role of the Poznan society
Chapter III. Holy Mass as a verbal and musical event
1. The liturgy of Holy Mass
2. Music of transmitted liturgy
2.1. Radio and musical culture of Poznan
2.2. Father Wacław Gieburowski and Poznan Cathedral Choir
2.3. Repertoire of radio transmissions
2.4. Formation of Polish musical culture
3. Preaching during transmissions from cathedral
3.1. Thorough choice of preachers
3.2. Principles of effective radio preaching
3.3. Receipt of sermons in the society
4. Phonic space of Poznan transmissions
4.1. Place of celebrations
4.2. Live event
5. Recipients of Poznan Radio
5.1. Scope of broadcast station
5.2. Broad audience
5.3. The sick and elderly
5.4. The faithful and non-faithful
5.5. Listening of transmissions of Holy Mass in literature
5.6. Variety of objectives set up for transmissions
Chapter IV. The way to approval of transmissions
1. Poznan transmissions and the Holy See
1.1. Explanations of card. August Hlond
1.2. Primate of Poland and Holy Office
2. Status quo and theological reflection
2.1. Demand for transmissions of Holy Mass
2.2. Transmissions as inspiration for interest in radio
2.3. Open questions
2.3.1. Praeceptum dominicale
2.3.2. Religious and non-religious broadcasts
2.3.3. Use of transmissions in the Church
3. Repercussions of the first decision of the Holy Office
3.1. Poznan transmissions as abuse
3.2. Making public of Holy Office’s decision
3.3. Dialogue between congregations
4. Formation of Radio Vatican
4.1. First words of a pope on the radio
4.2. Radiophonic attempts and radiotelephony
5. Break-through in reception of transmission of Holy Masses
6. Further doubts directed to the Holy Office
6.1. Detroit
6.2. Prague
6.3. Arquenay
6.4. Palermo
6.5. Malta
7. Approval of transmissions of Holy Masses
7.1. Votum of a theologian of the Holy Office from 1936
7.2. Opinion of the Congregation of Holy Rites and Apostolic Penitentiary
7.3. The approval that confirmed the existing practice

Chronological Table
Illustration Index
Person Index


Maciej Szczepaniak
The Holy Mass in the media. 
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Adam Mickiewicz University, 
Faculty of Theology, 
Poznań, 2021, 421 pages
ISBN 978-83-66399-53-2


Maciej Szczepaniak
Phonogenic Mass.
The first Polish radio transmission
of the Holy Mass and its circumstances

Adam Mickiewicz University,
Faculty of Theology,
Studies and Texts 160,
Poznan, 2013, 296 pages.
ISBN 978-83-63266-81-3