Our Lady
of Gietrzwald

Gietrzwald is one of the few places in the world where Marian apparitions were officially approved by the Church. The apparitions lasted from June 27 to September 16, 1877. The main visionaries were: thirteen-year-old Justyna Szafryńska and twelve-year-old Barbara Samulowska. It was at nine o'clock in the evening. Justyna Szafryńska was returning with her mother from Gietrzwald to Nowy Mlyn, where they lived. Justyna was happy because she had passed the last catechism exam and was about to receive her First Holy Communion. The girl was not capable, she had learning difficulties, hence the joy of passing the exam was even greater. When Justyna's mother said goodbye to her brother Mateusz Szelonga, the ringing of the bell reminded us that it was evening time to say the Angelus prayer. The mother prayed and headed towards the village. She looked at the child who was left behind. She urged them on because it was late and it was an hour's walk to the village. Justyna was supposed to answer: Wait, mummy, until I see what it is, white is on the tree.

The mother was not pleased with the delay, but the child stubbornly remained motionless. During the conversation between mother and daughter, who said that she saw great brightness in the tree, the parish priest Augustyn Weichsel arrived. The mother complained to the parish priest that the daughter did not want to go home, but kept staring at the maple tree, claiming that she saw a bright figure on it. The tree grew about a hundred meters from the interlocutors.

Fr. Weichsel ordered the girl to come closer to the tree. Justyna, standing almost five meters from the maple tree, said that she saw some beautiful lady sitting on a yellow chair with long, falling hair. Fr. the parish priest ordered the child to say a Hail Mary and go home. The child, however, still stood and told what he saw. It saw the Child descending from heaven in a white, shiny golden dress, with golden wings and a wreath on his head. The angel bowed to the Lady, who got up and went up to heaven.

All this made a great impression on the parish priest. He knew Justyna as a shy girl, not very resolute. The anonymous author of the brochure about the apparitions of Gietrzwałd wrote this about her, having direct contact with Justyna: "Great shame, she walks among people as if she did not see them, when she helps at work, e.g. in setting the table, she does not take her eyes off her work, although the room is full of interesting people ". As a farewell, the parish priest said to Justyna: Do not be afraid, come tomorrow at this time and pray the rosary.

The next day was the eve of Saints Peter and Paul, the patrons of the parish. Justynka came to Gietrzwald with a few friends. The children knelt and began to pray the rosary. As the bell indicated the time for the Angelus prayer, the tree shone. Justyna saw a shining rim in the place where she appeared. While praying the rosary, the familiar chair appeared, on which the Lady descending from heaven, seen previously, was seated, accompanied by two angels. Her robe was white, fastened with a headband. A little later, angels carried a radiant child from heaven, dressed in a white robe embroidered with gold. In her left hand she was holding a golden ball with a cross.

Among the praying children was also Barbara Samulowska, a 12-year-old girl, a year younger than Justyna. And she experienced the grace of seeing the whole phenomenon, which she told the parish priest about. Fr. Weichsel did not believe immediately, believing that the girl was repeating what her friend had said. Barbara was the characterological opposite of Justyna. She was lively, resolute, learning came to her without difficulty. The author of the anonymous pamphlet quoted here described it as follows: Barbara is probably not walking, but always jumping when you want to stop her, she will hardly turn, hardly listen, breaks free and runs away. It is an image of unrestrained freedom, an image of simplicity and nature, as befits a small village girl from a corner of the country that no one knew about before.

On the evening of June 29, many people gathered by the maple. The parish priest spoke to the girls every day and stated that the accounts of Justyna and Barbara were confirmed, although they shared the descriptions of the visits directly and individually.

June 30, the day before receiving Holy Communion. by Justyna, the parish priest ordered to ask the Lady if she appeared again what she wanted from them. Until now, apart from seeing, the children had not heard a word. On that day, when the Lady appeared, but without the angels and the Child, she repeated the priest's question. She heard the answer:

"I want you to pray the rosary every day"

The lady replied in Polish, both girls heard this answer and thought that everyone in the crowd could hear it as well. These first words spoken by Mary in Gietrzwald can be read today on the fence of the chapel carved in steel letters.

On Sunday, July 1, 1877, there were crowds in Gietrzwald. It was the day of the First Holy Communion, which Justyna also received. In the evening, crowds of believers gathered under the maple. This time, Fr. Weichsel told the girl who the appearing Lady was and whether the sick could come to Gietrzwald to receive help. Justyna heard the answer:

"I am the Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Conception"

When the girl asked about the sick, the vision disappeared. On that day, Barbara Samulowska was late to pray together under the maple tree. When she arrived, she saw only the brightness, but did not see the Mother of God. She was very worried about this fact. At night, however, she appeared to her and when asked who she was, she heard the answer:

"I am the Immaculate Conception"

The girl told the parish priest about the night vision, who dubiously accepted it. He began to fear that this fact might only confirm youthful, fanciful and false ecstasy. However, he was still very closely examining the whole matter. He decided to do a little experiment. He ordered the girls to position themselves during the rosary so that they would not see each other and could not talk to each other. Then, in front of witnesses, he questioned the girls individually about the course of the visit. Their statements, however, closely coincided with each other. To the repeated questions whether the sick will be healed in Gietrzwald, Our Lady replied: Later. On July 3, the children asked how long the apparitions would last. They heard the answer: