Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Poland

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Our Lady of Sorrows of Lichen
Queen and Patroness of Poland
Licheń - Cudowny Obraz Matki Bożej Licheńskiej.JPG
LocationLicheń, Poland
TypeWooden icon, bejewelled
ApprovalPope Paul VI
ShrineBasilica of Our Lady of Sorrows of Lichen

Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Poland, Our Lady of Licheń, or Virgin of Licheń is a Roman Catholic icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated by its Polish faithful dating from 1772 and is permanently enshrined within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Licheń, in central Poland, which was built to honor it, and receives about 1.5 million pilgrims per year.[1][2]

Close-up of the image.
The framed icon (lower image in red) on the altar of the basilica.

Along with the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, located in Częstochowa, southern Poland, the image is one of the two most venerated Marian images in Poland. The image was canonically crowned by Pope Paul VI on 15 August 1967.


In the central image, the Virgin Mary has a gold dress,[3] is being crowned by two angels and is surrounded by a ring of stars. Below the image, a ribbon carries the inscription: "Queen of Poland, give us days of peace." The image measures 9.5 × 15.5 cm and is on larger panel of 16 × 25 cm. There is a second crown above the image, on the larger panel.

Legend and history[edit]

The icon was painted in 1772 as a replica of the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary enshrined in Rokitno, Międzyrzecz County in Western Poland. According to legend, a Polish soldier (called Thomas Kłossowski) was wounded in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and had a vision of the Virgin Mary who saved him from death and instructed him to look for the image upon his return to Poland. Kłossowski is then said to have looked for and found the image in the woods in Grąblin as instructed.

According to oral tradition, in 1850 Kłossowski and shepherd Nicholas Sikatka witnessed several apparitions of the Virgin Mary who called for repentance and prayer. In the apparitions, the Virgin reportedly predicted war and a cholera epidemic but also gave hope. During the cholera plague of 1852, the image became famous for performing miracles.

On 29 September 1852, the image was moved to the parish church in Licheń and remained there until 2006. Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the Primate of the Millennium gave its Canonical Coronation towards the image with the approval of Pope Paul VI on 15 August 1967.

The basilica[edit]

In 1994 the construction of the new basilica of Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lichen was started to house the image and accommodate a large number of pilgrims. Pope John Paul II blessed the basilica in 1999.[4] The basilica is Poland's largest church, the seventh-largest in Europe and eleventh in the world. The basilica's organ created by Prof. Andrzej Chorosiński and manufactured by the Zych company (157 stops, 6 manuals and pedalboard) is the largest instrument in Poland, the fourth largest in Europe and thirteenth-largest in the world.[5] On July 2, 2006, the image was placed in the main altar of the basilica.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moved by Mary: The Power of Pilgrimage in the Modern World by Anna-Karina Hermkens, Willy Jansen, Catrien Notermans 2009 ISBN 0-7546-6789-8 page 99
  2. ^ Poland by Neal Bedford 2008 ISBN 1-74104-479-0 page 401
  3. ^ A new golden dress (named 'sapphire') was made in 2017 for the gratitude of the jubilee of 50 years from coronation of the icon in 1967. See the official website of the shrine (Polish).
  4. ^ Vatican web site: John Paul II at Lichen
  5. ^ Szostak, Michał (2017). Licheńskie organy na tle największych instrumentów Polski, Europy i świata. Licheń Stary: Zakład Gospodarczy "Dom Pielgrzyma". pp. 154–155. ISBN 9788364126147. OCLC 1005163172.