Church of the Holy Cross


Of Warsaw's many impressive churches, this is the one most visitors want to see – not so much to admire the fine baroque altarpieces that miraculously survived the 1944 Warsaw Rising reprisals, but to pay homage at the second pillar on the left side of the nave. Adorned with an epitaph to Frédéric Chopin, the pillar enshrines a jar that contains the composer’s heart.

After Chopin's death in Paris in 1849 his eldest sister, Ludwika Jędrzejewicz, complied with his request to remove his heart before his body was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery. Preserved in a jar of alcohol, most probably cognac, she smuggled it back to Warsaw where it was interred at the church. During their occupation of the city, the Germans removed the heart for safekeeping and had the good grace to return it once WWII was over. In a secretive operation in 2014, the jar was removed once again from the pillar to check the heart was still intact – it was.

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