WARSAW, Poland, JUNE 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Armed only with "truth, justice and charity," Father Jerzy Popieluszko sought to maintain and give witness to his freedom of conscience as a citizen and a priest.

This was how the Polish priest was described by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, when he presided over Sunday's beatification of Father Popieluszko.

The priest's mother, Marianna Popieluszko, led a rosary prayed before the Mass.

Father Popieluszko (1947-1984) was chaplain of Poland's Solidarity Movement, which was instrumental in the resistance to Communism.

The priest was killed by the Communist secret police in 1984.

Thousands of faithful attended his beatification, celebrated by some 100 prelates in addition to Archbishop Amato, who represented the Pope. Among the concelebrants was Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The current president of the Solidarity Movement, Janusz Sniadek, told ZENIT that Blessed Popieluszko is the "patron of social solidarity and of all those who witness to truth."

In his homily, Archbishop Amato affirmed that the sacrifice of this priest "was not a defeat." 

"His executioners were not able to kill the truth," he said.

"In fact, the tragic death of our martyr was the beginning of a general conversion of hearts to the Gospel," Archbishop Amato added, noting that "the death of martyrs is, in fact, the seed of Christians."

After the beatification Mass, Father Popieluszko's relics were carried in a procession that stretched 14 kilometers (8.7 miles).