The Miraculous Image
When the Miraculous Image had been relocated to Licheń Stary from Grąblin Forest, it was firstly placed in the cemetery chapel for five years. During that time, countess Izabela Kwileccka, the owner of the Licheń estate, was being building St. Dorothy’s Church. On September 19, 1857 Bp. Michał Marszewski transferred the icon to the parish church.
The most difficult times came in the years of the Second World War. After the parish priest had been arrested, Nazis gendarmes came to Licheń. One of them wanted to see the Miraculous Image. According to the story of Bolesław Licowski, parish organist, the gendarme tried to unveil the icon. It was placed behind a screen and the unveiling mechanism had jammed. He walked away disaffected saying that he would be back. When he had left, the organist unveiled the Icon without any trouble. He decided to save the image. He came at night, took the icon and replaced it by a copy of it. The original was kept by Jan Kietliński, administrator of Maliniec estate. The Image returned to the church after World War II.
In the time of the war whole shrine area was occupied by Germans. They organized here a camp for Hitlerjugend. The church was devastated and turned into a dormitory and a gym. The supervisor, Berta Bauer made a demonstration lesson – she shoot a crucifix placed on the church’s fronton. Witness say that she wanted to show that God did not exist. A few hours later, when she was traveling by carriage, she was wounded by bullets shot from an airplane. The crucifix with bullet-holes is now placed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Our Lady of Częstochowa Church.
In 1949 the Congregation of Marian Fathers came to Licheń and assumed the parish. In 1965 Fr. Eugeniusz Makulski came to Licheń. He prepared the image to the coronation with papal crowns. The ceremony took place on August 15, 1967. The Miraculous Image was coronated by the primate of Poland Stefan Wyszyński. In 1921-24 the cardinal was in Licheń as an alumnus (a student preparing to become a priest) for health reasons. He taught children and registered graces received by pilgrims in the Book of Grace.
The transfer of the Miraculous Image
On July 2, 2006 the Miraculous Image was placed in the basilica. Before it happened, the icon had been carried in a solemn procession through the streets of Licheń Stary. Thousands of people participated in that event. Tiny picture of Mary (16 cm x25 cm) was surrounded by a wreath of flowers and herbals made by parishioners. Eucharist was celebrated at midday in the square before the basilica. Next, the image famous of miracles was brought into the new church and placed in the main altar. During the first reveal of the image, the faithful heard for the first time a music item specially wrote for this occasion by a world famous compositor Krzysztof Penderecki.
This is the way, that ended the itinerary of the Miraculous Image, which was placed at the beginning in Lgota, brought to Grąblin Forrest, placed in the cemetery chapel in Licheń, transferred to Dorothy’s Church and now, finally it is in its home – the new basilica.
Why is Blessed Mary pictured without baby Jesus like on other famous icons?
Why is she alone?
On the Licheń’s icon Mary is a Sorrowful Mother of God standing under the cross. The icon remains a moment described in the Gospel of John, when dying Christ gave John to Her as a son and Mary to John as a mother. In this way Mary is the Mother of the Church, the loving mother of each one of us.
Pilgrims grateful for graces received by the intercession of Virgin Mary use to leave in the shrine votive offerings. An artist made of them pictures of saints. For many years those tablets had been in St. Dorothy’s Church. Together with the image they were brought into the basilica. Now they are placed on presbytery walls on both sides of the altar.
Earlier, in St. Dorothy’s Church, pilgrims were walking around the altar with the Miraculous Image in a prayerful atmosphere and entrusting themselves and they relatives to Mother of God. They can do the same today in the new basilica. Repeatedly they come from far away to tell about their life to patiently listening Mother. They are looking at Her for consolation, advice and courage to trustfully pilgrimage through the earth to heaven.