Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Papal envoy at the celebration in Kodeń, Poland  (Fr Marek Weresa)

By Fr Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

Aug 16 2023

As the Church in Poland celebrates the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Kodeń, Queen of Podlasie – Mother of Unity, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz laments the ongoing war in neighboring Ukraine and appeals for an end to the bloodshed.

Pope Francis, in appointing Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz as his envoy, stressed in a special letter that the shrine of Our Lady in Kodeń is a place of miracles, where many people come to pray and entrust their lives to Mary.

The Pope had named Cardinal Dziwisz, archbishop emeritus of Kraków, as the papal envoy to the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Kodeń, Queen of Podlasie – Mother of Unity.

In his homily at Mass on Tuesday, the former secretary of St. John Paul II underlined that then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyła came in a pilgrimage to Kodeń before his election as Bishop of Rome.

“The future Pope,” he said, “drew attention to a particular feature of the Mother of Christ: ‘Mary unites the People of God. And we find ourselves in a land where this unification of the People of God had a special historical significance. It was here that the meeting of the separated Churches – the Western and the Eastern one – took place.’”

As Cardinal Dziwisz added, the future Pope John Paul II said during his visit in Kodeń that in Podlasie region, in Eastern Poland, “there was a need for a Mother – for a presence of Mother, of Mother who unites: of Mother who knows all of Her children, whether they speak Polish or speak Ruthenian, or speak Lithuanian.”

Appeal for an end to bloodshed

Referring to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Cardinal pointed out that what is happening in Europe in front of the whole world cannot be accepted.

He underscored how the war is “depriving our brothers and sisters in Ukraine of their land, their right to life, their own language and culture, sowing death and destruction. The Slavic brothers cannot fight each other. They must not kill each other; they must not sow destruction; they must not multiply the immensity of suffering we are witnessing. The hand of Cain must be stopped. We have to bring end to this hatred, violence and fratricidal war. Enough of bloodshed!”

“Brothers Slavs, let us set an example for the world of fraternal coexistence between our peoples and not of blind hatred,” appealed the papal envoy. “May Our Lady of Kodeń be our guide on the ways of ending this war, reconciliation and peace. Together with Pope Francis, we place the future of humanity in the hands of Mary, Queen of Peace.”

Renewed coronation of Our Lady

During the ceremony, the new crowns blessed by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square on 3 August 2022 were placed on the image of Mary and Jesus.

A great number of pilgrims came at the invitation of Bishop Kazimierz Gurda, of the Diocese of Siedlce, and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who are the guardians of the shrine.

The history of the shrine in Kodeń dates back to the early 17th century. At the invitation of Pope Urban VIII, Mikołaj Sapieha prayed in the Papal chapel in front of the image of Our Lady known as the one of Guadalupe or Gregorian. He was healed after this prayer.  

Sapieha deceitfully stole the icon and brought it to Kodeń in 1631, where it remains to this day. After few years the Holy Father gave permission for the image to remain there.

The image of the Mother of God was crowned with papal crowns in 1723, one of the first coronations of an icon on Polish territory. – Vatican News