The history of the Miraculous Image is connected with 2 people: Tomasz Kłossowski and Mikołaj Sikatka.
Kłossowski, who lived in 1780-1848 was a nobleman. Russian invaders had confiscated his estate for his involvement in independence activities. (There were three partitions of Poland in the second half of the 18th century. The territory of Poland was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. The vicinity of Licheń was first annexed by Prussia since 1815 it was a part of the Russian Empire.) Kłossowski moved to Izabelin, 6 km from Licheń in the direction of Konin. As a Napoleonic soldier he fought in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 where he was badly injured. When he was praying for his life to be saved, Mary appeared to him with a crown on Her head and holding an eagle in her arms. Our Lady promised Tomasz that he would be cured and would return to his Motherland. She wanted him to find an image faithfully representing Her and to place it in public view. He came back to Izabelin and worked as a blacksmith. Folk tradition has it that in 1836 he found such an image in Ligota, near Częstochowa, when he was coming back home from one of his pilgrimages.
The icon shows the sorrowful Blessed Virgin Mary with a bowed head, looking at the eagle placed on her chest. On Her vestment there are symbols of the Lord’s Passion. The picture was painted in oil on a larch board measuring 9,5 x 15,5 cm. It was made as a copy of the icon of Rokitno around the second half of 18th century in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) probably by the Cistercians from Bledzew.
For a short time the image was kept at Tomasz Kłossowski’s home. Before he died, he hung it on a pine tree in Grąblin Forrest. The parish archive holds his death certificate which gives us the names of his parents (Józef and Rozalia) and his wife’s – Apolonia née Różkowski.
The chapel in Izabelin commemorates the former site of his house. His remains are now interred at the Licheń sanctuary. During the Second World War the Nazi occupants destroyed many graves in the parish cemetery. However, parishioners remembered where his tomb was located and today the place is marked with a symbolic memorial.
Mikołaj Sikatka was a shepherd from Grąblin. He used to pasture his cattle in Grąblin Forest and pray near the image hanged on a pine tree. On Mai, 1850 Mother of God appeared to him. In the next months there were several other apparitions. She called people to do penance, become converted, to recitation of the Rosary and She asked to move Her image to more worthy place. She said that there would be an epidemic and promised to intercede with God on everyone, who would pray for a help. Villagers did not believed the shepherd. Two years later, when plague of cholera struck, people started to listen to him.
Mikołaj related everything to Licheń’s parish priest – Florian Kosiński. He wrote down among the other things: “in the same forest, in the vicinity of the painting, shepherd of a cattle (…) allegedly used to see an unknown person, as if from another world, who through the same shepherd tried to encourage local people to do true repentance, change of previous, very reprehensible life.” Russian authorities imprisoned Mikołaj. He was interrogated and examined, but they had not found any mental disease.
In response to people’s prayers there were miraculous healings. There were more and more pilgrims coming to the image. The faithful built a chapel, where the image was placed. Terrified by the epidemic of cholera people were gathering there around the icon of Our Lady. Bishop of Diocese of Kujawy and Kalisz decided to transfer the image to Licheń’s church. Celebration took place on September 29, 1852.
Mikołaj Sikatka (1777-1857) married Tekla Mielcarzówna and after her death he married Kunegunda Jóźwiakówna. From his first marriage he had a son, Kazimierz. In the parish archive remain his act of banns, act of marriage, his death certificate and birth certificate of his son. Villagers of Grąblin remembered him as a simple person, who did not stand out.
The shepherd is buried in the area of the Shrine. His grave, the same as Tomasz Kłossowki’s grave, was destroyed by Nazis. However villagers remembered, that there was a lime-tree near his place of burial. The grave was found and now there is a commemorative tomb.