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This beautiful wooden church is a Marian shrine in Poland


Kamil Szumotalski/ALETEIA

Magda Jakubiak - published on 03/06/24

In the Tatra mountains there is a wooden church with a steep roof and a wide portico: the shrine of Our Lady Queen of the Tatra Mountains, where Our Lady is said to have appeared.

Deep in the Tatra mountains, there’s a beautiful little church, a shrine dedicated to Our Lady. Its location is geographically unremarkable. They say that the best nearby view of the mountains is actually a little hike away, in Rusinowa Polana. 

Only when we walk another few minutes from that view, continuing through the “100-mile forest,” will we see a construction the Zakopane style: a completely wooden building with a sloping roof, with a wide portico all across the front. This is the Marian shrine of Our Lady Queen of the Tatra Mountains in Wiktorówki.


Although the landscape around it has nothing special to offer, upon entering the chapel it’s hard not to be impressed by simple beauty. What also draws attention, however, is the wooden, minimalist altar with a statue of Our Lady of Jaworzyńska in the center. At the same time, the friendly, almost homely atmosphere invites one to talk with God.


Apparition of the Queen of the Tatra Mountains

The Marian shrine in Wiktorówki became a place of prayer and pilgrimage because of the events of 1860:  the purported apparition of the Queen of the Tatra Mountains, Our Lady of Jaworzyńska. It was here that she was seen by a 14-year-old shepherdess, Marysia Murzanska, who was tending sheep in Rusinka. The girl, having lost her sheep, ran into the forest, asking Our Lady to help her find them. Then she was startled by the sight of unusual light shining from a spruce tree, where Mary appeared.

The apparition, depicted on the shrine’s altar

The Blessed Mother promised the worried Marysia that she would find her sheep immediately, and made a request to her: that the young shepherdess leave her employment in Rusinowa Polana, to protect herself from spiritual danger. The girl was also instructed to admonish people not to sin and to do penance for their wrongdoing.

The shrine today

What can be found at Wiktorówki nowadays, in addition to the aforementioned chapel of the Queen of the Polish Tatra Mountains? Outside, on a hallowed spruce tree, there’s a plaque on the exact spot of Mary’s purported apparition.

And for wanderers looking for healing, next to the chapel flows a spring, whose waters are credited with miraculous healing properties. It was found by another shepherdess, Marianna, who reported having obeyed Our Lady’s revelations in a dream. This was less than 80 years after Marysia’s claimed extraordinary encounter with the Mother of God.

And although it’s difficult to provide definitive confirmation of Mary’s apparitions at Wiktorówki, this does not discourage pilgrims who persistently climb here to an altitude of about 4,000 ft. In summer they have a chance to sink into the soothing scent of damp forest or sun-warmed wood, and in winter to hear the crackle of snow being beaten underfoot. In addition, regardless of the weather, every hiker is invited to relax with a cup of tea in the Dominican kitchen — for one of the greatest lovers of the Polish Tatra Mountains, Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) himself, entrusted the pastoral care of this shrine to the Dominicans in 1975.

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