Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
The history of the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska started in 1602 when Mikolaj Zebrzydowski founded monastery. It was accompanied by chapels of Jesus Christ’s Passion on Zarek hill that were to depict Mount Calvary in Jerusalem (to way of the Christ to crucifixion). Soon it appeared that the sanctuary needs any nearby city that would host the pilgrims who arrived to sanctuary in order to achieve indulgence. The town got the name after its founder.
In 1641 Barnardine Fathers – that resided in in the monastery – were given the holy picture of ‘Crying Holy Mary’ – called from now on ‘Calvary Holy Mary’. The history of that picture says that Stanislaw Paszkowski from Brzez, while praying, noticed tears going down the cheek of Holy Mary. The owner of the painting was asked to present it to the church in Marcyporebie. The tradition says that mister Paszkowski took the painting to bring it to a given church, but on the way he felt a strong power that made him go into different direction. This is how he reached Zebrzydowska Calvary and decided that it was a sign that the holy picture belongs to that place. This is also how the cult of Calvary Holy Mary began. As 15 years later the miracacles of the holy painting were accepted by the church, a seperate chapel was built to hold the depict of Holy Mary.
Zebrzydowska Calvary is now one of the most interesting architectural and landscaping combination. It is also one of the most important and known places of pilgrimages in Poland, visited by numerous visitors that come there especially during Holy Week to attend special theatre-like events that depict passion of Jesus Christ.
The sanctuary consists of Barouque church – the one that hold the holy picture of crying Mary, monastery, sets of churches and chapels (also in Baroque style) situated in the hill and incorporated in a beautiful landscape of Beskid Mountains. They should remind the stops of Christ on the way to the mountain in Jerusalem, where he was crucified. The chapels give a unique opportunity to give a deep thought over the passion of Christ and mystery of the life of Holy Mary. The origin of calvaries as such dates back to 1420, when the first one of this kind was founded in Spain. Its popularity was influenced by the fact that Jerusalem was taken over by the Turks who banned the access there for Christians. As there were some publications encouraging people to found such calvaries, Mikolaj Zebrzydowski was inspired by one of them.
The Sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is taken care of by Bernardine Fathers – as its founder wished.