Cardinal Priest of S Gerardo Maiella
Born on October 21, 1914, in Walga, Estonia, Swiatek was ordained on April 8, 1939, then immediately arrested by the KGB and thrown into a death row cell in Brest prison. He remained there until June 22, 1941, when, taking advantage of the confusion created by the German invasion, he managed to escape. On December 18, 1944 he was once again arrested by KGB agents and returned to jail in Minsk where he remained until July 21, 1945. Swiatek was condemned to 10 years of forced labour in concentration camps and worked both in the mines and in the Siberian forest. Freed on June 16, 1954, he returned to Pinsk and immediately recommenced his pastoral activities. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness on February 11, 1988, and on April 11, 1989, was made Vicar General of the Pinsk diocese. On April 13, 1991, Swiatek was named Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev and also became Apostolic administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Pinsk. John Paul II elevated him to the College of Cardinals during the Consistory of November 26, 1994.