Religious Travel

Roman-Catholic sanctuaries are Poland's landmarks. The majority of pilgrims f lock to the Pauline Monastery on Jasna Góra in Częstochowa. Here you will find the blessed icon of the Black Madonna, venerated both in Poland and abroad. The followers of other faiths have their sanctuaries in many places around the country: the Eastern Orthodox Church at Grabarka, the Protestants at Karpacz, Wisła and Cieszyn, and the Muslims at Bohoniki.

Catholics make pilgrimages to shrines, calvaries and to miraculous springs. Orthodox Christians take crosses to the holy Mount Grabarka and Jews are drawn to the tombs of their Tzaddiks in Lezajsk and Lelow. Just add to this the roadside crosses and chapels and we get the religious landscape of Poland.

The spiritual capital of Poland is Jasna Gora in Czestochowa with its miraculous painting of the Black Madonna which annually attracts millions of pilgrims. They travel on foot for several days and covering several hundred kilometres. They arrive at the Jasna Gora meadows by the 15th August, the day celebrating of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There are more than 200 various sanctuaries in Poland. Although mainly Marian, some are dedicated to Jesus Christ or other saints. Each has a miraculous painting like at KodenHoly LipkaGietrzwald or Lezajsk, or a figurine as at Skepe, Bardo or Wawolnica. Some are also close to a spring which is said to have healing properties like the ones in Studzieniczna, Krasnobrod and Lesniow.

The oldest Polish sanctuary can be found in Gorka Klasztorna where, in 1079, our lady is said to have appeared before a shepherd. The most immense is the basilica in Lichen which can accommodate up to 30,000 people. The unique Holy Stairs are in the sanctuary in Sosnica and the smallest crowned statuette of the Virgin Mary stands in Gidle. It is only 9cm tall but is thought to be very powerful!

Poles enthusiastically participate in pilgrimages to calvaries, complexes of churches and chapels recreating the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. The Mysteries of the Passion of Christ are held at all calvaries during Holy Week. The most famous one Kalwaria Zebrzydowska has been entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Other pilgrimage destinations include Kalwaria Paclawska, the St. Anna's Mount or Wambierzyce.

Mount Grabarka is the most important place of worship for Orthodox Christians where crosses are erected on 19th July next to the church on the Holy Mount. An important holiday for the Polish descendants of the Tatars, that are followers of Islam, is Kurban Bajram, during which time cattle is sacrificed at the mosque in Bohoniki. Jews from all over the world are drawn to Lezajsk and Lelow to pray at the tombs of the Hasidic Tzaddiks, Elimelech and Dowid Biderman.

The religious treasures in Poland are both about holy objects and places connected to them. Here is a list of five religious treasures in Poland that you might want to explore.
Łagiewniki, Kraków
The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki is one of the most popular pilgrimage locations in Poland.
One of Poland's major pilgrimage destinations as well as one of the most beautiful Calvary complexes in Europe, the little town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is set amidst hills about 30 kilometers south-west from Kraków.
Wang Church
About a thousand similar wooden (stave) churches were built there then, yet till the present day only thirty one such churches survived in Norway, and this one in Karpacz Górny. Our Twin Parish in Hahnenklee, Germany, has also a wooden church built in 1908 according to the Norwegian designs. In the nineteenth century Wang Church proved too small and in need of costly renovation, and so a decision to sell it was made. The money was needed to pay back a loan taken for the construction of a new one.
Łysiec Mountain, commonly referred to as “Święty Krzyż” (Holy Cross) mountain was especially liked by witches ages ago. The folk legend has it that during their Sabbaths witches practiced witchcraft and organized hellish parties and dances. However, it is the remains of a stone heathen ring surrounding the top of the mountain and dating back to around 9th century.
Licheń
Virgin Mary’s Sanctuary in Lichen Lichen constantly attracts crowds of pilgrims. They rush to see the painting of the Virgin Mary, the Sorrowful Queen of Poland as well as the biggest Polish temple, probably one of the biggest sacred buildings in Europe. It has been built since 1994, and its sumptuousness is literally breathtaking. The temple, designed by Barbara Bielecka, is a five-nave transept cruciform basilica (Latin cross) with a semicircular chancel. Its façade is headed by an impressive column portico. The whole building is covered with an enormous golden dome, visible from the distance of almost twenty kilometers. It has been estimated that the church can house 7000 people
Pelplin
The pride of place in the town is held by the monumental Gothic cathedral, one of the most sumptuous Cistercian basilicas in Poland.
Often called the spiritual capital of Poland, Częstochowa attracts pilgrims and tourists from the whole world.
Church of Peace in Jawor
Both Protestant half-timber churches were erected in the mid-17th century, following the end of the Thirty Years’ War that ravaged large parts of Europe. Signing the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the emperor of Austria let the Protestants of Lower Silesia erect three ‘churches of peace’. They were to commemorate the end of the devastating war and religious conflicts.

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