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The Icon of the Virgin Mary from Licheń was painted in oil on a larch board. Mary has a White Eagle on her breast instead of the Child, and she is directing her closed eyes towards it. The face of Mary is dignified, majestic, and denotes suffering. The symbols of the Passion of Christ are found on her golden coat including: a thorn, crown, ships, nails, and a spear. Two angels support the Queen’s crown. Below the image is the inscription: “Queen of Poland – Give Freedom to Our Days.” An analysis of the painting shows that it was probably painted in 1772.

The history of the image dates back to 1813. During a battle near Leipzig, among the Polish soldiers fighting under Napoleon, was Tomasz Kłossowski, who was seriously injured. Facing death, he began an earnest invocation to the Holy Virgin begging her not to let him die in a foreign land. According to the legend, Our Lady was revealed to him in the light of the crimson sun setting over the battlefield. She was wearing the crown, an amaranth dress and a golden mantle, and hugging a white eagle – the symbol of Poland. The Virgin Mary comforted the soldier and foretold he would recover and return to his motherland. She also told him to find a picture of her and place it in public place in his homeland. The healed soldier returned to his home near Licheń.

Year after year he wandered about various sanctuaries seeking out the miraculous image of Our Lady. In 1836 he eventually found the image in Lgota – a village on his way back from a pilgrimage to Częstochowa. Initially he placed the portrait in his own house, and then hung it up on an old pine tree in the nearby forest.

In 1850 the Holy Virgin was revealed to a shepherd, Mikołaj Sikatka, who was pasturing cattle near the portrait previously hung in the forest. In her proclamation Our Lady summoned people to reformation. She exhorted them to pray the rosary and to honor the Lord’s Day. She also postulated for moving her portrait to a more dignified place. She promised that those who earnestly prayed before it would escape death during the plague which was to be the punishment for the absence of repentance among sinners. The Holy Virgin predicted the formation of the sanctuary and the monastery in Licheń, from which her glory would flow. Mikołaj, the poor shepherd started to expound Our Lady’s message but he was persecuted and imprisoned by Russian authorities. Two years later when, according to the Virgin’s prophecy, a cholera epidemic occurred the people remembered the warning conveyed by the shepherd. People thronged to the Holy Virgin to kneel before her portrait and pray. It was said that the sick recovered and the dying recuperated. Thus the cult of Our Lady in the miraculous image originated.

The revelation was examined by a special Episcopal committee of the Roman Catholic Church. At the request of the parish priest, Florian Kosiński, the committee decided to move the portrait to the parish church in Licheń. A celebration took place on 29 September 1852 and was attended by 80,000 pilgrims. By 1939, 3,000 various acts of grace, including many miraculous recoveries were recorded.

During World War II both the church and the presbytery were turned into a seat of the German Nazi Youth Organization. The portrait was removed from the church and hidden, and thus escaped destruction.

After the Second World War the parish in Licheń started restoring the sanctuary. Throughout the process communist authorities tried to prevent the work using the criminal court, lawsuits, persecution, and harassment of pilgrims, all without success. Today the Shrine at Licheń has become a major pilgrimage destination.

Source : Virgin of Lichen : Deacons Blog