Holy wells and trees in Poland as an element of local and national identity
in: Celeste Ray (ed.), Sacred Waters A Cross-Cultural Compendium of Hallowed Springs and Holy Wells, Routledge, London
Holy wells are present virtually in all regions of Poland. Localized veneration of such sites was particularly intense and important in times when Poles had to defend their cultural identity and Catholic faith, and in the regions of multiethnic character. One good example of a contemporary venerated well is at Gietrzwałd in the Warmia region, where nineteenth-century devotees saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. While this area belonged to German East Prussia before 1945, the sanctuary in Gietrzwałd is now a highly significant cultural landscape, locally and, to an extent, nationally. A popular place of pilgrimage in the twenty-first century, the shrine is often considered “the Polish Lourdes.” This essay contrasts Gietrzwald with Święta Lipka, a much older sanctuary which is also associated with Marian revelations and a holy tree.
cultural landscape, Poland, local knowledge, identity, popular piety