Stowarzyszenie Rodziny Deskurów

History of the Deskurs





Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur


Photo Gallery


Cardinal Deskur was born in the palace at Sancygniów, in the diocese of Kielce, Poland, on February 29, 1924.  He is the son of Andrzej and Stanisława Deskur and was a close friend of Pope John Paul II since the 1940s.  He died at 18:00 on September 3, 2011 at 87 years of age.

He studied Law at the Jagellonian University of Cracow, where he was secretary of the most important Polish student association, the Bratniak. He then entered the Seminary of Cracow. Due to the Stalinist oppression particularly of those belonging to the nobility, in the late 1940s Cardinal Sapieha sent him to finish his studies in Switzerland.  After studies in Fribourg, he was ordained in Saint Bonnet-les-Oules, France on August 20, 1950 although as a priest of the diocese of Cracow. In 1952 he was called to Rome to work in the Secretariat of State.

He was secretary of the Preparatory Secretariat for the Press and Entertainment during the 2nd Vatican Council (Vatican II) (1960-1962) and peritus (expert) for Social Communications for the assembly of the Council (1962-1965)

From 1973 to 1984 he served as President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He was ordained a bishop and was named Titular Bishop to the Church of Tene, Tunesia by Paul VI on June 17, 1974, and promoted to Archbishop on February, 1980. He was then elevated to the cardinalate by John Paul II during the Consistory of May 25, 1985.

Since 1996 he was the President of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate Conception.

On October 12, 2006 the Polish Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński awarded him the highest Polish decoration, the "Order of the White Eagle".

He is a Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of Malta.

Election of John Paul II

In the weeks before the election of John Paul II as pope in 1978, the then bishop Deskur, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and Curia insider for 26 years, hosted a series of important dinners at his Vatican apartment in the Palazzo San Carlo introducing Cardinal Wojtyła to the most influential cardinals of the coming conclave. On September 13th, the day before the conclave started, Bishop Deskur suffered a crippling stroke, which left him paralysed on the left side of his body ever since.  Despite press reports that he had died and requiem masses said for him, he nonetheless recovered albeit handicapped.  Pope John Paul II visited Bishop Deskur on the day after his election in the Gemelli Polyclinic and according to Tad Szulc told the hospital staff  "He taught me how to be Pope". Writing to Bishop Deskur's mother only 10 days after his election, JPII wrote that his dear friend "prepared me for what was to happen on October 16, he taught me what the Apostolic See really is and he facilitated contacts for me to Church leaders from Europe and all around the world."

Radio Veritas

One of his greatest achievements as the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was the creation and development of Radio Veritas, a catholic radio station based in the Philippines, which since 1969 has been very popular broadcasting Catholic news and information throughout Asia but particularly aimed at Communist China.

"Court Jester of the Vatican"

He has always been one of John Paul II's most trusted advisors. Traditionally he ate Sunday lunch every week with the pontiff, considering himself to be the "Court Jester of the Vatican" whereby he would collect the best jokes he had heard during the week to entertain the Holy Father on his "afternoon off".

Hospitable Family Man

Cardinal Deskur is an exceptionally family oriented man, opening his home in the Vatican to every member of the family whenever possible.


Bishop Wojtyła and Mons. Deskur

Bishop ordination in 1974

Cardinal Wojtyła and Bishop Deskur

JPII with Polish Cardinals

Ash Wednesday, 2004

© Stowarzyszenie Rodziny Deskurów 2011