And it symbolically guards this oft-conquered country from its latest intruder: secularism.
It might seem that setting up a bulwark against secularism is a bit premature: Surveys of religious attitudes in Poland show that just a small percentage of Poles have been moving away from the Church since Pope John Paul’s death in 2005. But the numbers are growing.
Ula Sawicka and her boyfriend, Piotrek, are both 24-years-old, born just as Poland was emerging from four decades of Communist rule. In between Ula’s shifts as a hostess at a trendy bar in Warsaw’s Old Town, the two eagerly discussed their views on religion and politics in Poland.
“So there’s, for example, abortion, or in vitro (fertilization), something what is really hot topic in Poland. So for me it's, like, people's choice,” Sawicka said. “And maybe it's not right with the Catholic thinking, yeah? But I'm more modern Catholic person.”