LADISLAS MICHEL ZALESKI (Ladislao Michele in Italian)

Born: 26th May 1852 in Wielona, diocese of Samogizia, Lithuania, of Polish stock.


Became the Apostolic Delegate to East India

Elected Titular Archbishop of Thebes: 5th March 1892
This benefice was titular (in title only), meaning that it was held without the authority or obligations normally associated. The reason for the maintenance of this see is that Thebes, in Boeotia, Greece (50 km. NW of Athens - refer to map below) was of historical significance to the Roman Catholic Church. After the capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade (1202-4), Thebes was made a fief of the feudal empire. Hospitallers and Templars (military religious orders originally founded to care for pilgrims to the Christian holy places in the Holy Land) received territory in the neighbourhood of Thebes. In this way Catholicism was given power in this part of Greece for a period, and at various times there were active Catholic and Orthodox Archbishops of Thebes. At this time Greece had also been conquered by the Franks; but slowly the conquerors and Catholics were overcome by the Greeks, and eventually the benefice of Catholic Archbishop of Thebes became redundant, as the Greek Orthodox Church took over. The title however remained and was accorded to high level clergymen who had the job of "roving ambassadors to the Vatican".

Monsignore Ladislas Zaleski's most important work was in India, and it appears that he spent considerable time there. The following are some notes collected from the WWW which give some indication of the work he did (A list of Websites from which these were taken is presented at the end of this page):
In a letter dated April 10, 1892, the Apostolic Delegate, Ladislaus Zaleski, wrote to the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda Fide, M. Ledóchowski: "I believe that I ought to inform you that the mission in Assam is the most difficult mission in India. I say this not only with reference to the ministry, but also as regards the living conditions of the missionaries. These conditions demand a profound spirit of sacrifice and abnegation."

On 9 January, 1894, the first council of the province of Calcutta opened. His Excellency Mgr. Ladislas Zaleski, titular Archbishop of Thebes and Delegate Apostolic, presided, and there were present, Archbishop Goethals of Calcutta, Bishop Francis Pozzi of Khrishnagur, Bishop Augustine Louage of Dacca, and the Very Rev. Angelus Wuenzloher, S.D.S., Prefect Apostolic of Assam.

Zaleski rediscovered Blessed Joseph Vaz at the end of the nineteenth century and became a Blessed Joseph Vaz’ devotee and admirer, publishing an account of his life. He held him up as a model of the native clergy he had been sent to train, and proposed that a new Cause for Canonization be started for Vaz.
It is a remarkable historical coincidence that a Polish Pope, John Paul II, fulfilled his Polish compatriot’s wish and beatified the “Apostle of Kanara and Sri Lanka” in 1995.
Zaleski wrote at least two books:
Ladislas M. Zaleski, The Apostle St. Thomas in India. History, Tradition and Legend, Mangalore (Karnataka) 1912;
Ladislas-Michel Zaleski, The Saints of India, 1915.
We need to still wait to see when the faithful in Europe would fervently pray to a black saint of Africa or to a brown saint of Asia! In the meantime we have been celebrating novenas and feasts of saints who have little cultural significance to us. The liturgical calendar has thus been a subtle instrument of continued cultural alienation of our peoples. Interestingly, these feelings were voiced by the Polish Apostolic Delegate to India, Ladislas-Michel Zaleski, in his introduction to his book The Saints of India in 1915. To quote him: "Why should the secular priests (of India) recite the office of Saints of foreign countries, who have for them no especial interest, and neglect and ignore the particular Saints of India, their Patrons and Protectors?"
Zaleski follows his argument in the Chapter dealing with Bl. Rudolf Acquaviva and his companions. He refers to the four native Goans who were also killed along with the Jesuits, and comments: "It should be examined if these four Indian Martyrs who certainly died for the Faith, could not be included in the beatification. The two last named (young boys Dominic and Alphonso) singularly about whose life and death we have more details, would be wonderful patrons for Indian youths and boys."
Promoted to Patriarch of Antioch of the Latins: 4th December 1916.
The title Patriarch is given to the highest rank of bishop; a rank just below that of the Pope, who has as one of his titles: The Patriarch of Rome. Antioch was an ancient city of Syria of great importance to Christians; amongst others, it was the first place that the term "Christian" was used. Antioch is now in that little piece of Turkey that pokes around the corner of the Mediterranean into Syria.
Both in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches there are Patriarchs of Antioch. In the various sects of the Catholic Church there are the following existant Patriarchies: The Greek Patriarch of Antioch, The Syrian Patriarch of Antioch and The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch. Zaleski's benefice of The Patriarch of Antioch of the Latins is now extinct. In the Orthodox Church there is The Patriarch of Antioch and the same benefice exists in the Syrian Orthodox Church.

He died: 5th October 1925

One may ask why Lucien Linden would honour this man by naming a plant for him. I think the following note from Arthur Swinson's Frederick Sander - The Orchid King (p. 167) may help explain:
All his career Sander had great faith in the power and helpfulness of bishops. He corresponded for many years with the Bishop of Singapore, who in the end protested that, unless he left the Church and became a merchant, he could not possibly supply all the plants demanded of him. (Sander had no hesitation in writing: 'Dear Bishop, Could you be kind enough to send me 3,000 Phalaenopsis, 1,500 Vandas or Renantheras, etc. . . .') He often wrote to the Bishop of Rangoon; and later on was to receive assistance from the Bishop of Bruges. So it is no surprise that he wrote to the Bishop of Saigon, advising him of Micholitz's visit; and fortunately, as the latter reported—'the Bishop was very amiable and has promised me a letter of introduction to the Nha Trang mission'.
Bearing in mind that Monsignore Zaleski was travelling much in India, it could not be a bad thing to honour him, with the possible chance that were he to trip over some or other useful orchid in his travels, it would then doubtlessly land up in the hands of Linden!!

I have been in contact with Nicole Schuermans-Ceulemans, the great-great-granddaughter of Jean Linden, who is about to bring out a Biography of this great Orchid Grower. She has a Web-site at http://www.jeanlinden.info, which is worth a visit. She has spoken with Dr.Guido Braem, co-writer of the biography of Jean Linden, and in his opinion, "The subtitle of the Lindenia text gives a clear answer. "Cymbidium de Monseigneur De Zaleski". This phrasing is typical for plants that are named in honour of a good customer."
I can find no other link between Zaleski and orchids, and can hardly imagine that he was an orchid grower.

Perhaps there is some other connection between Zaleski and Lucien Linden?