The Grave of Ignacy Paderewski’s Heart - Atlas Obscura

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The Grave of Ignacy Paderewski’s Heart

Our Lady of Czestochowa Cemetery

War prevented this Polish composer's body from being returned to his home country for 51 years. Though his ashes eventually made it home, his heart stayed behind. 


Famous Polish composer and politician Ignacy Paderewski died unexpectedly in New York City in 1941. He had wanted to be buried either next to his wife in Paris, or in Poland, but at the time both were occupied by the Nazis. President Franklin Roosevelt had Paderewski’s body interred inside the USS Maine Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery “until Poland is free.”

The war ended, but Poland still wasn’t free; it was occupied by the USSR. Paris was free, but apparently, that destination wasn’t appealing to the custodians of Paderewski’s corpse. It stayed in Arlington until after the Berlin Wall fell in 1991, when it was finally returned to Poland. Paderewski’s ashes were interred in a crypt at St. John’s Archcathedral in Warsaw.

But his heart stayed behind. He loved the United States so much that it was decided that his heart should remain here. It was extracted from his corpse and placed inside a bronze version of his head, which was then relocated to the Our Lady of Czestochowa Cemetery in predominantly Polish-American Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It’s been there ever since.

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