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.