Licheń, Poland - Photography - M1key - Michal Huniewicz

Licheń, Poland Photography - M1key - Michal Huniewicz

Licheń, Poland by Michal Huniewicz

This is the Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń, Poland, the largest church in the country. It took 10 years to build (1994-2004), and is located in a small village near the city of Konin. [2]

Next to it, is the historical/entertainment part, with a little Golgotha (Calvary), various statues, paintings, and other attractions for pilgrims. [1] There are multiple hotels too.

Due to its size, style, and cost, the whole complex remains highly controversial in Poland and abroad. I, however, leave the judgement to you, the viewer. But regardless of what you think about it, it is probably fair to say that the Basilica and its surroundings are an accurate approximation of what Polish people find visually compelling, and a good representation of folk religiousness.

Thanks to: Andrzej Huniewicz (captions), Ammar Hassan (proofreading).
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.
Uploaded on: 2014-03-23.

Licheń, Poland

Welcome to Licheń

Welcome to Licheń
That's the Basilica as seen from the car park. Why was it even built? According to the legend, Our Lady (the Mother of Christ), appeared several times before a shepherd in 1850-1852, promising to protect Poland, and asking for prayers. The precise site of that event is not far from the Basilica, which was built to commemorate the event (although there already had been a church closer to the site). [2, 20]
ISO 200, 32mm, f/4.0, 1/800s.

John Paul II

John Paul II
Pope John Paul II, himself Polish, blessed the Basilica in 1999 [2], and there is a small memorial site next to the place where his helicopter touched the ground.
ISO 200, 82mm, f/5.0, 1/800s.

In a local shop

In a local shop
In a local shop, various sacred items and religious paraphernalia are available in great abundance: books, figures, rosaries, postcards, magnets, crosses, paintings, keyrings, jewellery, mugs, ornaments, etc.
ISO 560, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/80s.

Angels

Angels
Right after entering, you are welcomed by angels...
ISO 200, 65mm, f/5.0, 1/400s.

Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń

Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń
One man was behind the Basilica project - Rev. Eugeniusz Makulski, who "claims to have had a vision of the future sanctuary as he drove along the dusty road that leads to the village". [3] He chose the design, and supervised the construction.
ISO 200, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/1250s.

Eugeniusz Makulski

Eugeniusz Makulski
Rev. Makulski commemorated himself as well - in the form of this statue. Kneeling before the Pope, he is offering him a small-scale replica of the church.
ISO 200, 18mm, f/7.1, 1/640s.

The scale

The scale
Just to give you an idea of the scale - there is an adult person sitting on the Vaticanesque stairs. There are 33 of them, to symbolise Christ's age at the time of death.
The windows are supposed to "shine in the sun like a mature blade of wheat." [3]
ISO 200, 82mm, f/7.1, 1/320s.

Canteen

Canteen
Let's go to the historical/entertainment part. But first, the canteen (called Emaus), serving modest but pretty tasty food.
ISO 1400, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/80s.

Priest

Priest
Here's a statue of a priest, who, I was told, looked like me. Actually, a few years ago I was taken for a priest, when wearing a dark coat and white scarf. "Good evening, father!", said one vigorous older lady. "Hello. ...Wait, what?".
ISO 500, 105mm, f/5.3, 1/80s.

Jerzy Matulewicz

Jerzy Matulewicz
Young couple visiting Licheń.
ISO 200, 170mm, f/5.6, 1/200s.

In a chapel

In a chapel
Crucified Jesus in a chapel.
ISO 360, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/40s.

In Japan

In Japan
This is Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest, in Japan. Fewer than 1% of of the Japanese population claim Christian belief. [4] Paul Johnson, in his book A History of Christianity, claims that the reason why Christianity never succeeded in Japan is that the Vatican did not allow for the Bible to be translated into Japanese until very late (fearing another Luther-style schism in the Church - when common folk actually understand the content).
ISO 1600, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/25s.

Kolbe

Kolbe
Kolbe volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. [5]
He was recently accused of anti-Semitism, but the charge was apparently rejected by scholars. [6, 7]
ISO 900, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/8s.

Auschwitz

Auschwitz
That's Kolbe carrying his cross to Auschwitz.
ISO 1600, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/15s.

Gen. Sikorski

Gen. Sikorski
This is Władysław Sikorski, Polish military and political leader, who died in a plane crash during WW2. The hands behind bars are those of Polish people imprisoned by the USSR, after the USSR invaded Poland together with Nazi Germany in 1939. In 1941 the Soviet Union, through the Sikorski-Mayski agreement, granted amnesty to many Polish citizens, so that they would form a Polish Army in exile to help fight the Nazis.
ISO 200, 22mm, f/3.8, 1/100s.

Stations of the Cross: 1. Jesus is condemned to death

Stations of the Cross: 1. Jesus is condemned to death
This Golgotha (Calvary) was actually built decades ago (unlike the Basilica). In its construction, rocks brought from Mount Tabor, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem’s Calvary, the Cenacle, and Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, were used.
ISO 200, 40mm, f/4.5, 1/1000s.

The Flagellation

The Flagellation
The Stations of the Cross of Licheń Sanctuary follow the traditional form, but there are extra caves and chapels, like this one. [8, 9]
ISO 1600, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/13s.

Whipping Jesus #1

Whipping Jesus #1
Both torturers have lost their hands, for some reason. Here's the first one...
ISO 1600, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/4s.

Whipping Jesus #2

Whipping Jesus #2
... and the second one.
ISO 720, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/20s.

Mother of Jesus, Queen of Poland

Mother of Jesus, Queen of Poland
And this is the scene from the aforementioned legend. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the shepherd. The eagle she is holding is the White Eagle present in the national coat of arms of Poland, although this one looks somewhat unimpressive and unhealthy...
What does Mary have to do with Poland and why is she wearing a crown at all?
In 1656 Poland (or rather Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) was already in trouble after a short period of its golden age, being now occupied by Swedish and Russian armies. The Polish King, John II Casimir, in an effort to save Poland, announced the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the Queen of the Polish Crown and other of his countries. This act is known as the Lwów Oath, after the then-Polish city (today Lviv, Ukraine).
Poland did eventually drive the Swedes and Russians back, but the following "reign" of the Blessed Virgin Mary was over 300 years of disasters (Partitions of Poland, loss of independence, World War 1, World War 2, communist era). Nevertheless, she is still referred to as the Queen of Poland and revered. "Then what are we so grateful and respectful for?", asked the Polish artist, author, and soldier, Józef Czapski. [12, Adam Zagajewski]
ISO 200, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/100s.

Dedicated to Polish children

Dedicated to Polish children
"Dedicated to millions of Polish children murdered by their dearest" "Mummy, daddy, my Polish nation, doctor, nurse, do not kill me".
ISO 640, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/25s.

Dedicated to an unborn child

Dedicated to an unborn child
"Unborn child". "Merciful God, forgive this nation this crime, and do not punish [us] for the innocent blood, crying to heaven."
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/25s.

Awaiting resurrection

Awaiting resurrection
Here, ashes of various priests await resurrection.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/25s.

Adultery cave

Adultery cave
The adultery cave.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/11, 1/25s.

Kids

Kids
Kids visiting the Calvary.
ISO 200, 16mm, f/2.8, 1/800s.

Crucifixion

Crucifixion
On top of the Golgotha.
ISO 200, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/4000s.

In the tomb

In the tomb
The body of Jesus in the tomb. The "official" tomb is in Jerusalem (there are two, actually: one is Protestant and there is one for other Christian denominations).
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/40s.

Guestbook

Guestbook
Left by people visiting the place.
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/400s.

Denial of Peter

Denial of Peter
"This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.", said Jesus to Peter.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/160s.

Assumption of Mary

Assumption of Mary
In 1950, the Catholic Church officially stated that Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not die, but went straight to heaven. [10]
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/60s.

Photo op

Photo op
Same place, everyone is taking pictures.
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/25s.

Stairs of atonement

Stairs of atonement
"Stairs of atonement. Entrance only on your knees."
ISO 200, 16mm, f/2.8, 1/250s.

Psychedelic resurrection

Psychedelic resurrection
Jesus returns to life after 3 days of being dead.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/125s.

Back to the church

Back to the church
Time to return to the Basilica and have a look inside!
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/5000s.

Inside

Inside
This is the lobby of the Basilica, and to the left are the doors leading inside.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/5000s.

Main altar

Main altar
And this is the inside of the Basilica. The columns are apparently inspired by those of the Renaissance court of Wawel Castle in Krakow. [3]
ISO 360, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/80s.

The vault

The vault
The vault. (Have a look at the one of the Yeni Camii mosque in Istanbul as well.)
ISO 560, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/80s.

Big organ

Big organ
Licheń boasts the largest pipe organ in Poland. [11]
ISO 400, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/80s.

End of crawling

End of crawling
The Basilica is home to an 18th-century portrait of Our Lady, The Sorrowful Queen Of Poland - and one is advised to pass it on their knees. The portrait (referred to as the Miraculous Icon) is a copy of an earlier painting. [3]
ISO 1600, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/60s.

Another altar

Another altar
Another altar and a smaller organ.
ISO 200, 11mm, f/2.8, 1/80s.

Closer

Closer
To build the Basilica, materials from all over the world were brought to Licheń: green marble from Brazil and India, pink marble from Spain, yellow from Hungary, and white from Italy. [3]
ISO 200, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/800s.

Hussars' wings

Hussars' wings
The benches are reminiscent of the Polish hussars, the elite cavalry of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and their famous giant wings attached to their back. The Hussars evolved into heavy cavalry, and dominated the battlefields for a while, having some very impressive results (see the Battle of Kłuszyn). This is what they looked like, and here are some modern interpretations - all of which makes even me feel patriotic, and I must struggle hard to resist the urge to invade Russia.
Okay, last one. Also, I saw a giant statue of a Polish Hussar somewhere between Washington and New York - quite surreal.
ISO 400, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

Angel

Angel
And this, I guess, is a Polish angel. After having been raised in Poland, I was convinced for many years that Jesus was Polish, so this sort of stuff is no surprise to me at all.
ISO 200, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/100s.

Bleeding wound

Bleeding wound
Jesus on the cross, after having his side pierced by the Holy Lance, also known as the Lance of Longinus.
Of course, there have been multiple lances pretending to be the lance, as it happens with all relics. It was allegedly seen in Jerusalem and Constantinople, and currently there is one in the Vatican, Vienna, Echmiadzin, and Antioch, and then there are others, still. [13] Sounds like a novel by Umberto Eco, but it's true.
It was seen as the attribute of power, and was possessed by the Holy Roman Emperors. The Germans retrieved it during the Anschluss, and there is a book claiming Adolf Hitler specifically started World War 2 to get the lance. But then, people will write books claiming anything.
The Church doesn't recognise any of the spears (even the one in the Vatican).
ISO 200, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/1600s.

Below the church

Below the church
You can also walk downstairs, into the "patriotic" part of the church. Well, they are all patriotic, but this one is especially so.
ISO 500, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

Donors

Donors
Who paid for all this? People did - through private donations. The total cost is unknown, and Rev. Makulski says that "you do not ask the Mother of God for the bill". [14]
ISO 560, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin
There is even a copy of the Shroud of Turin - the shroud in which Jesus was wrapped after death (also not currently recognised by the Church, although it was in the past [15]).
ISO 400, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

EU

EU
EU
"2004 - Finally reunited with our European family, we return where we deserve to be."
In 2004, Poland has joined the European Union. It might have been Milan Kundera who said that communist Poland was a Western country located in Central Europe with an Eastern political system imposed on it. After regaining independence and waving communism goodbye, Poland has been striving to regain its place in the Western world.
ISO 560, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

Ulm family

Ulm family
The Ulm family were murdered by the Nazis for attempting to rescue Polish Jewish families during the Holocaust. They were all killed (including their six children, all of which were aged under 10, and another child was due to be born) along with the Jews they were hiding, in 1944. Józef and Wiktoria Ulma were posthumously bestowed the titles of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. [16] After the war, the Nazi responsible for the crime became a policeman in Essen, West Germany, and was never prosecuted.
After 1989 there has been more interest and more research done in Poland on the dark side of Polish involvement in the Holocaust as well, but in Licheń I didn't find anything related to any Polish crimes.
ISO 720, 50mm, f/1.4, 1/80s.

Eagle

Eagle
And finally, a more healthy version of the eagle!
ISO 200, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/6400s.

View from the tower

View from the tower
A view from the tower. The 141 m high construction serves no other purpose than offering views (there are no bells in the tower). [21]
ISO 200, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/1600s.

Shhh

Shhh
"Clear your mind, pilgrim". This is the The Grąblin Forest, where the miracle took place, according to the legend.
ISO 320, 35mm, f/4.2, 1/80s.

Sharing bread

Sharing bread
Jesus sharing bread - I am not sure with whom.
ISO 450, 11mm, f/3.5, 1/80s.

Your thoughts?

Your thoughts?
So much for Licheń. Well then, is it a religious entertainment park or is it a proper sanctuary (what is a proper sanctuary?)? Where is the border between patriotism and nationalism? Between pride and vanity? Is it a place of thought or a feel-good tribute to the infallible Polish people? Is it beautiful or is it ugly? Is it money well spent?
"It's tacky and tawdry", said Małgorzata Omilanowska, the Polish Vice-Minister of Culture and National Heritage. [18] Most Polish people seem to like it.
The choice is yours.
ISO 200, 18mm, f/7.1, 1/400s.