A delegation of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate from Poland went to the Holy Father on the occasion of the upcoming 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Kodeń. The Shrine of Our Lady of Kodeń is the main Marian shrine in the diocese of Siedlce, the east of Poland. The Oblates are responsible for this holy place from 1927. Annually, over 200,000 pilgrims visit the sanctuary.

During the Wednesday audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, the Holy Father Francis blessed the crowns prepared on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Kodeń. Delegation of the Polish Province comprised of Fr. Paweł Zając OMI (Provincial), Fr. Krzysztof Borodziej OMI and Fr. Michał Hadrich OMI together with the bishop of the Siedlce diocese – Kazimierz Gurda, requested a papal bequest for next year’s ceremony in Kodeń. 

The crowns were made by a well-known Polish artist specializing in goldsmithery and amber – Dariusz Drapikowski. The crown is decorated with amber: white, honey and gold. In the crown of Mary there is also a stone from the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and in the crown of Christ – a stone from Golgotha.

In a brief conversation with the Provincial of the Polish Province, the Holy Father inquired about the future of the Oblates in the context of the upcoming General Chapter. He was also interested in the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and in nearby Ukraine. The bishop of Siedlce asked the pope for a blessing for his diocese. [Editor’s Note: the Shrine of Our Lady of Kodeń is right on the border with Belarus and very close to Ukraine].

He was particularly interested in the proximity to Ukraine and Belarus. Last year was very difficult for Kodeń, but on the other hand, the spiritual development continues. The situation on the eastern border led to the fact that in our pilgrim house, not only pilgrims gathered, but also soldiers, policemen, who stayed in this area almost all the time, guarding our security and keeping an eye on borders. Such was the role played recently by the Shrine of Our Lady of Kodeń. From July 1, everything is open and the sanctuary has reopened its mission and the pilgrim’s home. Thousands of pilgrims are gathering again. The Holy Father asked about our future as Oblates, because in September we are starting our General Chapter” – the Provincial of the Polish Province told Vatican Radio.

Our Lady of Kodeń

The celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Kodeń is planned for August 14-15, 2023.

In 1631, the then owner of the property – Mikołaj Pius Sapieha brought the painting of the Gregorian Madonna to Kodeń. [Editor’s Note: this image was known as the Gregorian Virgin because a tradition says that Pope Gregory I had it painted as a reproduction of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain which the Pope had given to St. Leander, Archbishop of Seville].

The history of Our Lady’s arrival in Kodeń was described by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka in the novel “Blessed Wine”. During the Russian partition, the image of the Mother of God found shelter in Jasna Góra. It returned to Kodeń in 1927, and since then the sanctuary is under the care of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who gave Mary the title of Mother of Unity, as Pope joked that “in Kodeń you have an image that belongs to the Pope”. Mary is also venerated here as the Queen of Podlasie.

(First published on oblaci.pl)
(photos – M. Hadrich OMI, featuew photo – Vatican Media)