“Our Lady of Lichen”
LICHEN, POLAND(1813, 1850)
The first apparition appeared to Tomasz Klossowski in 1813 while he was away at war, fighting with the Polish soldiers under Napoleon in Leipzig, Germany. He became gravely injured and feared dying in a foreign country, so he prayed and asked the Holy Virgin to allow him to come back to Poland to die in his own homeland. The Holy Mother appeared to him in the light of the crimson setting sun. She was wearing the crown, an amaranth dress and a gold mantle. She was hugging a white eagle – the symbol of Poland. She comforted him and informed him that he would be healed and would return safely to Poland. But, she had a request. He was to find a picture of Mary, place it in a public area and worship it. When he returned to Poland, he searched for a picture of Mary – and finally found one in 1836 on the way back from a pilgrimage to Czestochowa. He took the picture and hung it on an old pine tree in the Grablin forest near his house. Soon after, he died.
Our Lady appeared in 1850 to Mikolaj Sikatka, who was pasturing his cattle near the area where the picture was hanging in the forest. She called for people to come to conversion, penance, and prayer. She informed about the punishment which would come – predicting wars and an epidemic of cholera. But she gave hope and promised:
“When hard days will come, those people who will come in front of this picture and will pray and do penance, will not die. Whenever this nation will come to Me and ask for help, I will never leave this nation, and I will protect this nation, and I clasp this nation to My heart like I did with this White Eagle. The picture should be placed in a better, more proper place and should be publicly worshipped. The pilgrims from all of Poland will come to this picture, and they will find consolation in their distresses. I reign for My nation forever. On this place will be built a magnificent church for My veneration. If people will not build this church, the angels will build it.”
The Holy Virgin predicted the formation of the sanctuary and the monastery in Lichen from which her glory would flow. The shepherd Mikolaj started to expound Our Lady’s message, but he was persecuted and imprisoned by Russian authorities.
But, just as the Virgin had predicted, two years later in 1852, the epidemic of cholera began. That
same year, the picture was placed in the parish church in Lichen. People remembered the Virgin’s prophecy and thronged to her portrait to kneel and pray. Whoever prayed in front of this picture received graces and did not become ill or die. Those who were already ill or dying recuperated.
A special Episcopal committee of the Roman Catholic Church investigated these claims and by 1939 had documented around 3,000 recorded acts of grace, including many miraculous recoveries and cures.
The miraculous painting survived many incidents over the years. Thanks to the generosity of visiting pilgrims, a new Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lichen was built, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II consecrated this church – Poland’s largest – on June 7, 1999. It is the 7th largest church in Europe.