Zygmunt Jan Rydlewski was born in occupied Poland in 1868. He emigrated with his parents to Pittsburgh, where he joined the Holy Ghost Congregations as a postulant at the age of 17. After graduating from secondary school, he went to France, where he studied theology. At the time of his enlistment in the Polish Army, Rydlewski was a pastor at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Pittsburgh.
Rydlewski was a zealous proponent of the Polish cause and it was no surprise that he was one of the first chaplains to enlist in the Polish Army. In early 1918, he arrived at the camp to serve as senior chaplain, where he comforted the recruits who were dealing with the thoughts of being sent off to war; he performed regular masses both outdoors and in the Canadian YMCA tent. Image courtesy of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America Inc. Archives, New York.
On August 8, 1918, Rydlewski left with a depot of recruits for France, where he served as chaplain in Haller’s Army. Rydlewski saw action on both the western and eastern front. After the war he was discharged from the army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Rydlewski remained in Poland after the war, where he opened and ran an orphanage. When the German’s invaded Poland in September 1939, Rydlewski was imprisoned in a Nazi internment camp in Lubin. He died at the camp in 1941.