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Queen of Kashub's Honored at Celebration Mass

Gienek Pryczkowski, the Vice President of the Kaszubian Pomerania Association offers insights on Our Lady of Sianowo on August 2, 2008 at St. Mary's of Czestochowa in Wilno, Ontario.

The Queen of the Kashubs

The Sanctuary of the Queen of the Kashubs in Sianowo is currently the biggest in Kashubia and Pomerania. It has also become more and more well-known all over Poland.

The first mention of Sianowo comes in 1393. At that time, people were already talking about the Presbytery in Sianowo. There already existed a parish with a small church in which a statue of the Mother of God of the highest artistic quality could be found. Legend has it that an engaged couple had found her on the eve of St John's Day. In 1480, the Church completely burned down, but the statue was saved. The parish, however, ceased to exist and Sianowo became a part of the Strzepcz parish, even though the church was later rebuilt. Meanwhile, veneration of the Mother of God had grown. Sources claim that by the 15th century, a whole host of people were already making pilgrimages to Sianowo and receiving an abundance of blessings.

In 1810, the church was once again destroyed by fire while the statue was once again saved. It was moved to Strzepcz. The original parish priest of Strzepcz had not wanted to rebuild the Sianowo church. The Mother of God, however, had been shown to a certain wise woman who had said that it was absolutely necessary to rebuild the church; to do otherwise would lead to bad luck in the area. The testimony was given under oath in the presence of the Strzepcz parish priest. At that time, the church was quickly rebuilt, and the number of worshippers started to grow very quickly. In 1864, the Sianowo parish was instated for the second time. Sources from this time state that, 'Many lame and crippled who come are cured because of the Most Saintly Mother. They leave their crutches and sticks in Sianowo.' Young people wishing to enter into marriage made pilgrimages especially willingly. It was commonly believed at that time that he who made three pilgrimages on foot to the Sianowo Mother would find happiness in marriage.

Soldiers, setting off to the battlefield World War 1 and especially of World War 2, received many blessings. Indeed, to Her they repeatedly owed their miraculous rescue. One of these, Fr Franciszek Grucza, was an outstanding priest, and translated the Gospels into Kashubian. His and many other testimonies resulted in the Chełm Kazimierz Bishop Józef Kowalski addressing a request to Pope Paul VI to crown the miraculous statue as the Queen of the Kashubs. The Pope agreed to this request. The coronation took place on 4th September 1966. Many bishops and a huge number of Kashubian people were assembled. From this time, veneration grew even more. In 1987, Pope John Paul II named Sianowo and the coastal Swarzewo as the most important places for Kashubian religious worship. In recent years, the Stations of the Cross in the style of traditional Kashubian architecture have been erected. A large chapel suitable for church festival has been built; in the future, rosary chapels have to be built. The Pilgrims' Square where up to 20,000 people assemble every year to celebrate the July church festival, has been restored. About 40 companies of pilgrims on foot come. Pilgrims from Miastko cover the longest route of 120km. Pilgrims willingly emphasise their Kashubian roots, many coming in regional dress. They also carry standards and banners bearing witness to their attachment to faith and Kashubian identity. At each church festival, a part of the liturgy is in Kashubian. As well as a religious centre, Sianowo has become a place from whence the beauty of the Kashubian language and culture emanates.

Polish Kashubians are part of the 150th special Mass in honour of our Kashubian Queen - the Lady of Sianowo. Vising the Statue of the Queen at St. Mary's is very dear to them and they are proud that the Canadian Kashubians have re-kindled their connection to their homeland in Kaszebe.

For more information on the Lady of Sianowo in Wilno, Ontario click here

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