Construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń had began in 1994. It took only 10 years to complete. The shrine came into being thanks to initiative of Fr. Eugeniusz Makulski, who united with this idea thousands of the faithful from all over the Poland and from abroad. The entire project was financed by their voluntary donations. Father Makulski wanted this church not to represent only one architectonic style. The basilica was thought to unite elements of various epochs through the 20 centuries of Christianity. The project was prepared by polish architect Barbara Bielecka.
On June 22, 1994 on construction site, there was a Mass celebrated and the work started after ceremony of “turning the first spade”. On 25 Mai, 1995 the Primate of Poland Józef Glemp placed corner-stone brought from St. Peter’s tomb in Rome. First chapel- the Chapel of Holy Trinity- was completed in 1996 and Masses started to be celebrated there. John Pole II during his pilgrimage to Licheń blessed the basilica under construction.
6,5 mln bricks were used to build the basilica. The church composes a full harmony with surrounding scenery thanks to the color of the walls and window motifs – gold ears of grain. The last part of the church was the tower, which construction started in 1999 with excavating foundations, which go 8 meters deep. For assembly of the tower it was necessary to bring a special crane from Belgium capable of lifting materials to the height of 150 meters. Through the whole time of construction there was no serious accident.
On June 12, 20004 apostolic nuncio archbishop Józef Kowalczyk consecrated the basilica. At the same year Holy See approved obligatory memorial of Our Lady of Licheń on July 2 in the Diocese of Włocławek. In the next year, on February 25, pope John Paul II gave the title of minor basilica to the new church in Licheń.
Basilica of Lichen is the biggest church in Poland, 8th largest in Europe and 12th in the world. It is composed of three parts: two-storey shrine, belfry and tower. Towards the church leads 33 steps referring to years of earthly life of Jesus. There are 365 windows and 52 doors symbolizing number of days and weeks in the year. The vault of the Basilica is supported by 12 columns symbolising 12 Apostles. 4 columns supporting the dome symbolize the four Evangelists. There is placed a baldachin over the main altar. Here is the heart of the sanctuary - the tabernacle and above it, since 2006, the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Licheń. Higher there is a text of the oldest polish Marian song: The Mother of God.
There is also the largest organ in Poland. The instrument is composed of 5 independent sections, arranged in several places. To the right of the main nave, there is the Chapel of the Heart of Jesus, where in the wintertime pilgrims can adore the Blessed Sacrament and go to confession. To the left there is The Rosary Chapel with fresco depicting apparitions in Grąbliński Forrest.
In the lower part of the Basilica there are 5 chapels: of the Holy Trinity, of 108 Martyrs o the Second World War, of Blessed Father Stanislaus Papczyński, of the Shroud of Turin and of the Priests. The spectators tower high of 141,5 meters is opened for visitors since August 7, 2004. From spectators terraces which are placed at level of 98 and 114 meters can be viewed beautiful panorama of the Sanctuary and the surrounding areas. It is possible to get there with an elevator or by stairs. The bell tower is 65-meters high. There is hanged the largest bell in Poland, third largest in Europe, “Holy Mary the Mother of God” weighing 15 tons. The bell was made in Milan, Italy and it was consecrated by archbishop Joseph Kowalczyk on June 25, 2000.