On May 1-2, 2018, the Kalwaria Pacławska shrine, the most important pilgrimage site in Poland’s subcarpathian region, celebrated the 350th anniversary of its foundation. On this occasion, the Friars Minor Conventual together with the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Cracow, the University of Rzeszów and the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), organized a educational symposium entitled: “The Shrine of the Lord’s Passion and Our Lady of Calvary”.
The lecturers mentioned that over the centuries Kalwaria Pacławska has been and still is an important spiritual center for south-eastern Poland. “The presence of the Conventual Franciscans has been very positive here” – said the Most Reverend Adam SZAL, Archbishop of Przemyśl, Poland.
Friar Damian SYNOWIEC, OFM Conv. of Cracow, stressed, “The central concept of our worship is the paschal mystery, that is, the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Everything that happens in Kalwaria Pacławska is linked to that mystery…that goal is expressed in the liturgies, homilies, prayers, the presence of the friars, the pilgrims and even this place itself.” The miraculous image of the Mother of God came from the town of Kamieniec Podolski, [now part of the Ukraine]. Polish kings (John Casimir and John III Sobieski), princes and commanders in chief have prayed before it. Fifty years ago, then Cardinal Karol WOJTYŁA (later Pope Saint John Paul II) prayed before it as well. It still attracts thousands of pilgrims. By the end of the eighteenth century, fifty different miraculous events had been recorded. “The documentation lists the names and dates of people who experienced miraculous healing. Not only Polish Catholics, but also representatives of other religions, confessions and nationalities who were healed” said Dr. Zofia BATOR from the “Lovers of Sacred Art” Association.
The Franciscan historian Friar Zdzisław GOGOLA, OFM Conv., drew attention to a very important element in the history of Kalwaria Pacławska. “During the Kalwaria friary’s 350-years existence, three attempts were made to turn it into a novitiate to receive candidates for the Order. The first two attempts were made when Poland was partitioned. The third attempt took place when martial law was imposed in 1982. That was when the novitiate opened. It experienced the collapse of communism and the emergence of a free Poland and has operated continuously to this day “.
During the two days, the participants listened to fourteen educational conferences, which had been previously published in a book entitled “The Shrine of Kalwaria Pacławska, 1668-2018”.
The first founder of Kalwaria Pacławska was the castellan of Lviv and governor of Podolia, Andrzej Maksymilian FREDRO (1668). He was a political writer, historian and author of aphorisms. His successor, or rather the second founder, was the noble Szczepan Józef DWERNICKI, in the 18th century.
Friar Jan M. SZEWEK,
Spokesman for the Province of St. Anthony and Blessed James of Strepar in Poland /