Sanktuarium Matki Bożej Królowej Podhala Ludźmierz
Sanctuary of Our Lady Queen of Podhale, Ludźmierz
In gratitude for saving him from oppression, he funded a statue. The figure of “Gaździna Podhala” (the Shepherdess of Podhale) is located in the altar of the neo-Gothic church from 1869–77, but the first wooden church was built here after 1234, when Ludźmierz became the seat of the Cistercians. However, they soon moved to Szczyrzyc. St. Pope John Paul II, during his visit to his homeland in 1997, came to Ludźmierz to pray the rosary here. This visit was commemorated by a monument of the praying pope. However, Karol Wojtyła had been to Ludźmierz before, and in 1963, as the Bishop of Krakow, together with the Primate of the Millennium, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, he crowned the figure of “Gaździna Podhala”. Apparently, when a statue of the Virgin Mary was carried in the procession, a sceptre suddenly slipped from her hand. It would have fallen to the ground had it not been for the reflexes of Bishop Wojtyła, who managed to catch it. It was then considered an omen of a bright future for the bishop. It should be remembered that the Marian Sanctuary in Ludźmierz has been the second, after Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, pilgrimage centre in the Archdiocese of Krakow for hundreds of years. Ludźmierz is, above all, an image of the piety of Podhale, both individual and collective. Marian devotion is a special manifestation of this. In order to commemorate the rosary prayer of the Polish Pope, the people of Podhale and from the USA and Canada, pilgrims, priests and parishioners, at the turn of the millennium of Christianity, and at the same time in the year of the 600th anniversary of the cult of Gaździna Podhala, founded the Marian Rosary Garden. 20 highlander chapels, carved by Marek Blajerski, introduce pilgrims to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. The visit of the Pope, an extraordinary Pilgrim of Ludźmierz, was immortalised in the polychrome in the presbytery of the church and the statue of the kneeling St. John Paul II with a rosary in the centre of the Garden. On August 15, 2004, Fr. Card. F. Macharski dedicated the Mysteries of Light in the Rosary Garden. In the 1980s, a pilgrim's house was built, as well as cloisters, a garden, a field altar and Stations of the Cross. The expansion of the sanctuary is accompanied by a commitment to help deepen the religious life in Podhale, expressed, for example, through the Fatima services or the peregrination of copies of the statue of Our Lady of Ludźmierz, visiting houses in Podhale, Orawa and Spisz. It is worth knowing that in the private rooms of the Polish Pope, throughout his pontificate, there was a copy of the statue of Our Lady of Ludźmierz. On May 18, 2001, the Pope elevated the church in Ludźmierz to the rank of a Minor Basilica and donated his skullcap. On April 2, 2009, on the 4th anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II, a copy of the statue of Our Lady of Ludźmierz was placed in the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem. On August 15, 2011, 3 months after his beatification, Card. Stanisław Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, gave the sanctuary the relics of the Polish Pope. On August 15, 2017, a chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II was opened, with the relics of the greatest pilgrim of Ludźmierz and the texts of the documents issued by the Polish Pope displayed in it.