Old Lichen, Marian Shrine in Lichen
The thing that makes Stary Lichen unique is the Marian Shrine described as „the Czestochowa of the North” and its miraculous painting of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Queen of Poland and the patroness of the working people. Presently it is the largest church in Poland and one of the largest in Europe which attracts around 2 mln pilgrims every year.
The history of the Shrine is associated with a small picture of Our Lady of Licheń. The painting shows a bust of the Virgin Mary looking down with a crowned white eagle on the chest. In 1967 cardinal Stafan Wyszynski crowned the image of Our Lady with a crown sent by the Pope Paul VI. The holy painting hangs in the main altar of the new monumental Basilica built in 1994-2004. It is the largest church in Poland, the eighth in Europe and the twelfth one in the world. The Basilica was designed by Barbara Bielecka and according to her architectural plan resembles a field of waving golden grain. What-is-more the whole construction of the church is symbolic: the light comes into its interiors through as many windows as a number of the days in the year (365); also 33 stairs leading to the basilica refers to the years of Jesus Christ’s life on the Earth. The Marian Shrine owes also the polish largest organs and a bell called „Maryja Bogurodzica (Mary, Mother of God). Also its 128-metres tower is the highest in Poland. In front of the church stands one of the largest monuments to the pope John Paul II. Near the church there is the Golgota hill with the Way of the Cross, the National Wall, mausoleum of St Maximilian Kolbe, monuments to Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski and many many others.