JEWISH CONVERTS IN KRAKÓW IN THE LATE SEVENTEENTH AND EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY (Zydowscy konwertyci w Krakowie w 2. pol. XVII w i 1. pol. XVIII wieku)
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The article examines the problem of conversions of Jews to the Roman Catholic faith in Kraków, which were much more frequent than was usually assumed, even though it never assumed massive proportions. In the 17th century, there were only rare instances of baptisms of Jews in the records of Kraków area churches but in the first half of the 18th century, and in particular beginning in the 1720s, the number of desertions from Judaism grew markedly. The growth trend continued until the late 1750s, when it was suddenly reversed. The baptisms of the Jews took place first of all in Kraków's main church, the Church of Our Lady, especially when Jacek Lopacki was the Arch Presbyter, who personally christened nearly 300 people. The growth of the number of converts was not due to the Church's missionary activity, however. No special institutions were ever established that would focus on the converts from Judaism. The Kraków Church just provided some financial support to the new Christians, who tried to integrate with the Christian milieu at a rapid pace. Most of the Kraków neophytes probably deserted the Judaic faith due to poverty, although there were also some representatives of the town's elites among them. In most cases, the reasons for embracing Christianity remain unknown. Throughout that period, the Jews' baptisms were solemn ceremonies, with Polish noblemen predominating among the Godparents, including many representatives of the Wielopolski magnate family. Kraków, being an important centre and especially the see of a diocese and seat of many monasteries, attracted many converts from Malopolska region.
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