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Old October 26th, 2005, 10:36 PM   #1
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Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Poland

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska owes its existence to the squire of Krakow Mikolaj (Nicolaus) Zebrzydowski. In the year 1600 he commissioned on the mountain of Zarek the building of the church of the Sacred Cross, modelled after the church of Golgota in Jerusalem. At the ceremonial blessing of the church on the 4th October 1601, he decided to build a chapel of the Tomb of Christ, similar to the church in Jerusalem. To ensure that the holy complex was looked after, Mikolaj Zebrzydowski invited to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the franciscan fathers and brothers -- in Polish called Bernardyni -- who had also cared for the holy places in Jerusalem for over 300 years. In 1602 he completed the gesture of goodwill and soon he started to build a monastery with an attached small church. After 1604, Mikolaj Zebrzydowski, having seen the resemblance of his land to that of Jerusalem, decided to open places of worship similar to those in Jerusalem. In the execution of his plan he was helped by architects Giovanni Bernardoni and Paul Baudarth -- a belgian by birth. The building of the monastery and church was completed in 1609. The building of the chapels of the stations of the Cross and others, 24 in total, took until 1617.
Almost as soon as the places for the individual stations of the Cross were nominated, the pilgrims started to flock and take part in the New "Jerusalem" service of the Passion of our Lord according to the ritual laid down by the resident monks.

After the death of Mikolaj Zebrzydowski in 1620, further building work was carried out by his son Jan Zebrzydowski. It was then that the church of the Sacred Cross was extended and the beautiful church of the Tomb of our Lady was built. A special procession service along the paths in honour of our Lady was instigated for which a further 9 new chapels were built. The placing of a picture of our Lady, thereafter called our Lady of Kalwaria, in the church by the monastery served to rekindle marian devotion. This picture was ceremoniously crowned in 1887.

Apart from the procession devotions by the various pilgrimages even during the life of Mikolaj Zebrzydowski services were arranged on good friday and the Assumption of our Lady. In time word about the services spread, and today they form the main celebration on good friday of Christ's Passion, and the Burial and Triumph of our Lady.

The growing number of pilgrims and their spiritual needs resulted in the extension of the monastery in 1655/1656 and the monastery church in 1692/1720. The main church was also extended by building new chapels of the Immaculate Conception and Saint Anthony. The church itself was also enlarged. Obviously such a big complex requires repair and refurbishment and this is undertaken regularly to the present day.

Pilgrims from all over Poland and abroad come to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Specific services are said for the people of the Krakow Archdiocese and other dioceses. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska has been visited by very prominent people: members of royal families; austrian emperors; polish bishops and bishops from all over the world. A special worshiper from his childhood days remains pope John Paul II, who visited Kalwaria as pope in 1979.

Today the Kalwaria monastery also houses a higher seminary.

Last edited by Jacek; October 26th, 2005 at 10:44 PM.
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