The unknown apparitions of GIetrzwald


                          Image of Our Lady of GIetrzwald

-Year of Apparition 1877

-Location: Gietrzwald, Poland.

Gietrzwald is located 18 km west of Olsztyn. Here is the shrine of Our Lady of Gietrzwald, also called the "Polish Lourdes".

-A destination point for numerous pilgrimages, it is located in the Warmia region.

It was on this land that St. Adalbert, patron saint of Warmia and all of Poland, was martyred.

Our Lady of Gietrzwald

-Historical Context
At that time the nation was under Prussian rule and it was difficult to provide priests to the parishes, in order to weaken the deep-rooted Catholicism of the people.

Chancellor Otto Bismarck enforced the anti-Catholic "Kulturkampf" with an iron fist and many congregations had been suppressed except those caring for the sick, as well as the Daughters of Charity.

Throughout the Warmia region, devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa was very intense and people flocked to pray before her image.

There were two girls, 12 and 13 years old. In total there were more than 166 apparitions.

Justina Szafrinski and Barbara Samulowska.
Justina Szafrinski, thirteen years old, was born in 1864. Twelve-year-old Barbara Samulowska was born in 1865.

-Description of the Apparition
The girls claim to have seen the Blessed Virgin 166 times, from June 27 to September 16, 1877.

On June 27, 1877, the 13-year-old Justina Szafrinski had just come from her catechism exam for her First Communion when she saw the Virgin Mary by a tree near the village church.

She was suspicious of what she had seen, so the next day she returned with her friend, 12-year-old Barbara Samulowska. They began praying the rosary together and then received a visit from Our Lady with whom they had the following dialogue:

Who are you?
I am the Immaculate Conception
And what does the Mother of God desire?
That you pray the Rosary every day.
From that day on, the girls saw Our Lady on numerous occasions and in many different ways:

Sometimes seated on a throne surrounded by Angels, or on a cloud with a radiant face, or with a crown on her head and the Child Jesus in her arms.

From the very first moment, the local parish priest, Augustine Weichsel, believed in what the girls were saying and supported them.

When the girls asked Our Lady about various matters such as when the churches were going to reopen or asked for the healing of a sick person, she always replied that they had to pray the rosary every day so that their wishes would be fulfilled.

-Miracles of Our Lady of Gietrzwald
On September 8, a sick person was healed and little by little the end of religious oppression came, and the parish priests were able to return to the churches.

-Curiosities of Our Lady of Gietrzwald

The Polish Capuchin friar Honoratus de Biala, beatified by John Paul II in 1988, was one of the propagators of this Marian apparition.

The visionaries entered as Daughters of Charity in 1884, thus beginning their novitiate at the motherhouse in Paris.

Justina left a deep spiritual mark in the formation house, and as for Barbara, she adopted the name of Sister Stanislava and, after eleven years in Paris, she was assigned to Guatemala for the missions, dying there in 1950.

-The Church's position on the Gietrzwald phenomena
In the weeks following the apparitions, the bishop of Warmia and future Cardinal Filip Krementz, ordered an investigation of the girls and concluded that there was no sign of fraud and that the girls did not derive any benefit from this circumstance. Pilgrimages to Gietrzwald began to be constant, with people coming from Lithuania and even Russia.

In 1967, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski honored Our Lady there, and finally on September 11, 1977, the Bishop of Warmia, Josef Drzazga, granted canonical recognition to the apparitions, in the presence of Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow Karol Wojtyla who, already as Pope, in 2002 on the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the Apparitions, sent a letter to the Shrine thanking the Blessed Virgin for her maternal protection over Christians.

-How to get to the Shrine of the Virgin of Gietrzwald
Gietrzwald is located 212.6 km north of Warsaw.