“God has saved me many times. He was really merciful to me. He turned all my difficulties, illnesses, even my imprisonment into great spiritual values. He is able to turn human muck into spiritual treasure.” ~ Ladislav Záborský
A much-admired Catholic painter of religious themes, Ladislav Záborský arguably most famous canvas, that of Christ as a Worker, was first shown at an exhibition in Košice in March and April 1949. Before long, it became widely known throughout Slovakia. Záborský’s success also became the source of his difficulties with the State Security apparatus. His painting was declared corrupt and a ban was imposed on the further depiction of Christ as a worker. His situation steadily worsened, and in June 1954 he was accused of treason and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. On Christmas day in 1957 he was conditionally freed. Once in his own home he lost little time in transcribing from memory poems he has composed without pen or paper while in Valdice prison. A small collection of these was published in Zvolen, Slovakia, in 2003 under the title Združenie Jas (Association of Light). Since 1957 he has had a highly productive career as a religious artist and a designer of stained-glass windows for churches, primarily in eastern Slovakia.
~ An excerpt from the book ‘The walls behind the curtain’ by Harold B. Segel
“… such nice thoughts just like the Holy Spirit had inspired me and dictated those words to me, so I wanted to write them down. I borrowed some soap and soaped the outer side of my basin. I also borrowed a comb and broke one tooth of it. I was afraid that they could catch me. I wrote my poems on the outer side of basin, you know, since it was soaped it glinted in the light under the window and I had only a couple of hours to memorise it because days were short and some of my poems were almost two pages in length. In my opinion, it was a miracle that I managed to memorise it so quickly and word by word. Then I recited those poems every day because I didn’t want to forget even one word and to break their rhythms.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
Vo väzení (In Prison)
That I sit here alone and do not hear the voice of culture?
It is not so entirely empty here.
I am, after all, the hero in a great theater
the director of which is God himself.
I also have a film showing any time:
I just have to turn on the living spring of my imagination,
because I have in my head a projector of many films.
The most beautiful books are human souls
in which beneath the surface flows a strange life.
I even have a radio in this empty cell of mine,
when the voice of God reads in my soul and awakens feelings
with open arms.
Because heaven broadcasts continuously throughout the entire world,
you merely have to listen and know how to understand.
~ A poem by Ladislav Záborský, translated from Slovak by Harold B. Segel
“Five months in the isolation cell were for me spiritual exercise. Board and accommodation were assured. Exercitation was led by the Holy Spirit. He dictated me those poems. I wrote them down as rapidly as possible and until night I learnt them by heart. Those poems helped me live in jail.”
~ Ladislav Záborský
Matthew 5: 11-12