Our Lady of Berdyczow

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Our Lady of Berdyczow (Polish: Matka Boza Berdyczowska) is a 17th-century icon of the Virgin Mary, patterned after Rome’s Our Lady of the Snows. The icon, whose size was 70 x 51 centimeters, was crowned on July 16, 1756. At that time, it was kept at a Roman Catholic shrine at Berdyczow, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (now: Berdychiv, Ukraine). The shrine in Berdyczhow was the most important such location of the Kiev Voivodeship, and whole Polish Ukraine (see Shrines to the Virgin Mary).


The original painting of Our Lady of Berdyczow perished in a 1941 fire. Its copy (143 x 93 cm) was made in 1991 by a painter and restorer from Krakow, Bozena Mucha-Sowinska.

The history of the shrine dates back to 1630, when Voivode of Kiev Janusz Tyszkiewicz built a Discalced Carmelites church and a monastery, as a votum for his release from Ottoman captivity. Tyszkiewicz presented to the church the icon of Virgin Mary, kept by his family. Due to numerous wars and conflicts of the 17th century, the icon was kept at Lwow (1648-1721) and Lublin (1722-1736).

Since the Berdyczow icon was associated with several miracles, Pope Benedict XIV agreed to crown it with golden crowns. The coronation took place on July 16, 1756, and the ceremony was led by Bishop of Kiev Kajetan Soltyk. From May 28 until June 14, 1768, Polish rebels under Kazimierz Pulaski defended the monastery from Russian troops (see Bar Confederation). In 1820, when Berdyczow was part of the Russian Empire, the papal crowns were stolen. Pope Pius IX sent new ones, and the re-crowning ceremony took place on June 6, 1856, ordained by Bishop of Luck and Zytomierz, Kasper Borowski.

In 1924, Soviet authorities seized the monastery together with the church, opening here a museum and a cinema. The icon was preserved as a piece of art. In 1941, the complex, together with the icon, burned in a great fire.

Carmelite monks returned to Berdychiv in 1991. On July 19, 1997, Bishop of Kiev and Zhytomir, Jan Purwinski, blessed the copy of the original icon. Third crowning of Our Lady of Berdychiv took place on July 16, 1998.

On October 27, 2001, the church at Berdychiv was named all-Ukrainian national sanctuary.


  • Miejsca swiete Rzeczypospolitej. Leksykon, red. Antoni Jackowski, Znak, Krakow 1998, s. 27-29.
  • Przewodnik po sanktuariach maryjnych. Z dawna Polski tys Królowa. Koronowane wizerunki Matki Bozej 1717-1999, Szymanow 1999, s. 79-81.