The St. Simon's Catholic Church in Glasgow, the spiritual centre of the local Polish community since World War II, suffered severe damage from a devastating blaze on Tuesday night.
The fire department received information about the blaze at 2:40 am. More than 30 firefighters participated in the operation trying to salvage the building, but according to media reports the roof caved in and all windows were destroyed.
"The destruction of St Simon's Church will be a blow to people not only in the west of Glasgow, but much further afield. Although small in size, St Simon's Church was frequently visited and was the spiritual home of the Polish community in the west of Scotland who had established a shrine there. 'St Simon's Church was a much loved spot on the map,' the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow stated.
Built in 1858, St. Simon's Church was the third oldest Catholic church in the Glasgow archdiocese. Its association with Poland dates back to World War II when soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces in the West stationed in nearby barracks began attending Mass there. Since then, it has been called the Polish Church, and its wartime ties with Poland were commemorated on a plaque on the facade of the building.
After the war, it remained a spiritual centre for the Polish community in Glasgow. The wave of migrants from Poland arriving in Scotland after Poland’s EU accession in 2004 significantly increased the number of faithful served by the church, with a mass held in Polish every Sunday. "Extremely sad news this morning. St Simon's Church was at the heart of our Polish community with weekly Polish services. It will be greatly missed," - The nearby Sikorski Polish Club stated on social media.
Poland In’s business correspondent David Kennedy says that the blaze is devastating news. “My family has lived nearby for 4 generations. My own association with Poland brought its importance even more to the fore” - Kennedy stated.
Expressions of solidarity with the Polish community have been sent by Scottish Government Health Minister Humza Yousaf and Scottish Labour Party branch leader Anas Sarwar, among others.