What did Fr. Papczyński look like?

Using state-of-the-art computer technology, experts from the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Medical Academy in Poznań, Poland, have “reconstructed” the face of Fr. Stanislaus Papczyński, Founder of the Marians.

It is not clear whether Fr. Papczyński — who will be proclaimed Blessed on Sept. 16, 2007, at the Marian Shrine in Licheń — ever posed for a portrait or whether images of him were drawn purely from artists’ imaginations.

“A portrait at the monastery in Skórzec, acknowledged as the oldest one, has been created at the turn of the 17th century,” said Fr. Paweł Naumowicz, MIC, Superior of the Polish Province. “However, we cannot say for certain if it was made during our Founder’s lifetime or if the artist merely painted Fr. Papczyński from his imagination, after Fr. Papczyński’s death.”

So to be sure of his likeness, the Marians turned to science.

“We know that a successful reconstruction of Michael Kopernik’s likeness has been achieved,” said Fr. Naumowicz. “Other religious communities also thought about it in regards to their founders.”

The reconstruction of Fr. Papczyński’s likeness was undertaken by experts in Forensic Medicine from the Medical Academy in Poznań using the software “Pol-Sit Reconstruction.”

In order to recreate Fr. Papczyński’s image, it was necessary to do an anthropological examination of his skull. “We superimposed two pictures — of the skull and the likeness reconstructed on the basis of this skull. The degree of resemblance between the two pictures is very high, which proves that the picture of the reconstructed face is most closely resembling the original,” experts wrote in their report.

In the opinion of Fr. Zbigniew Krochmal, MIC, spokesman of the Marian Shrine in Licheń, the image obtained through forensic reconstruction is nearly identical to the one of the existing portraits. “When I first looked at the result of the experts’ work, I was captivated by the gentleness of Fr. Papczyński’s eyes and cheerfulness of his expression. That face did not display any sign of trials that he bore during his lifetime,” said Fr. Krochmal.

Father Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701) was the Founder of the Congregation of Marians. He was a zealous confessor, promoter of the holiness of laity, and advocate of praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

(From KAI – Catholic Information Agency)