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Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loretto

Sanktuarium Matki Bożej Loretańskiej 27.03

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loretto is located in the Warsaw-Praga diocese (60 km north-east of Warsaw) and is under the care of the Loretto Sisters.

It is spiritually linked to the international shrine of the Holy House of Our Lady in Loreto, Italy. The house that is transferred from Nazareth, conceals the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word into which all the mysteries of the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are inscribed. The founder of the Polish Loretto is Blessed Father Kłopotowski known above all as a protector of the poor and as a Catholic editor and publisher. As pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Loretto in Warsaw’s Praga district, he had daily contact with a replica of the Holy House. This and probably other factors led to his desire to renew the Loretto cult – widely spread in 17th and 18th century Poland.


In 1928, Father Kłopotowski bought the forest estate of Zenówka situated on the Liwiec river about 60 km from Warsaw. He brought the Loretto sisters to this beautiful corner he had founded. He wanted to carry out charitable works here and create conditions for the poorest children of the Warsaw Praga district and for the sisters working in the printing press. In 1928 summer camps for children began to function on the grounds of Loretto and in winter a shelter for homeless elderly people, called “St. Ignacy’s Care Home”. Fr. Kłopotowski was very keen to create a centre of Marian devotion there, especially reviving the cult of Our Lady of Loretto, so he tried to change the official name of the place to Loretto – spelled with two “t” as opposed to Loreto in Italy.

Initially, one of the houses in the forest served as a chapel with the permanent presence of the Blessed Sacrament and a stone grotto was erected on the grounds of Loretto in which a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed. Therefore, Mary began to receive the veneration she deserved. After Fr. Ignacy’s death in 1932, the chapel was moved to a red brick building near the grotto with the statue of the Immaculate. The place began to attract the inhabitants of the surrounding villages who worshipped God and asked Mary for Her intercession. Mary also took care of this place during the Second World War. Due to the approaching front, the Loretto sisters had to leave Loretto and seek refuge in Korytnica Węgrowska.

After the war, more and more worshippers were coming to pray. Therefore, a need of building a new chapel occurred. Although in 1952 the sisters received approval for the plans and began construction, the communist authorities stopped the work just a year later and began persecuting the sisters and looting their property. When the congregation renewed its request to continue construction in 1956, they received a permission granted only to build a monastery with a chapel. Although the sisters were severely hampered, the shell of the chapel was completed in 1959. The first Mass was celebrated there on 19 March 1960. Further finishing of the building and façade continued until 1971.


Almost from the beginning, the sisters wanted to have an image of Our Lady of Loretto in the chapel. The first statue for this place was embroidered by Sister Agnes Cesarska in 1932, the second one (25 cm high) was given by Archbishop Bronisław Dąbrowski and he consecrated it personally on 9 December 1966. In 1981, on the eve of the introduction of martial law in Poland, a 120 cm high statue of the Madonna of Loretto was placed in the main altar of the Loretto chapel. The statue was founded by the Pawlicki family from Freiburg and made in an artistic workshop in Milan according to the model of the statue in Loreto (Italy). The statue was coronated under diocesan law and the decree was issued by Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódz while finishing his ministry in the Warsaw-Praga diocese. The act of coronation of the statue took place during the indulgenced feast at Loretto – on 7 September 2008.  It was performed by Archbishop Henryk Hoser SAC, the new Ordinary of the Warsaw-Praga diocese. The solemn Eucharist was presided over by the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp.

The Loretto shrine gradually became an increasingly important place for Warsaw and the surrounding area. In the Marian Year 1986/1987, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Józef Glemp, granted the chapel the rank of a Marian sanctuary. After the creation of the Warsaw-Praga diocese, its Ordinary Bishop Kazimierz Romaniuk issued a decree establishing a sanctuary in honour of Our Lady of Loretto in 1999. The shrine in Loretto was established as a station church where it was possible to obtain an indulgence during the Year of the Great Jubilee 2000 and during the Year of Mercy. The peregrination of the statue of Our Lady of Loretto in the Year of Faith became an exceptional event connected with the Loretto sanctuary. By the decision of the Ordinary of Warsaw-Praga Archbishop Henryk Hoser, on 6 January 2013, our Lady of Loretto set out to visit every deanery, parish and chapel in the diocese. To commemorate this unique event, the figure of the peregrinating Mary, sanctified by the love and prayers of the faithful, remained in the side chapel of the Cathedral Church of St. Florian and St. Michael the Archangel in Warsaw – Praga district.


In the Year of Faith, another significant event began at the Loretto Shrine – the construction of a new temple. Undoubtedly, this is an expression of the great design of God’s Providence and Mary’s action and… the realisation of the tentative desires of the Loretto sisters. Thoughts of extending the shrine arose with the increasing influx of pilgrims. Until now, the faithful had prayed in the small chapel of the nuns. A field altar was prepared for larger celebrations. The sisters considered the possibility of extending and improving the residential infrastructure for guests but they did not think that the Lord God would send them people with big hearts who would want to build a new house for Our Lady in this place (The founders: Regina Katner and Andrzej Jaczewski who are presidents of the Ebejot company in Warsaw, will be permanently remembered). In mid-2013, the construction work of the church has begun. After five years, the new church was blessed during the indulgenced feast (10 September 2010), attended by 15,000 pilgrims and dozens of priests. The celebration’s motto was: Mother of the Church, unite us in your home. Bishop Romuald Kamiński, Ordinary of Warsaw-Praga presided over the indulgenced feast. During the rite of blessing of the shrine, the relics of Blessed Father Kłopotowski were placed in the mensa of the altar.

Loretto is visited by many pilgrims who come here in great numbers, especially in September for the indulgenced feast. Since 1987, more and more walking pilgrims from the nearby deaneries and from distant places, have been coming to the shrine for this celebration. Since 2016, the year in which the congregation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth and baptism of Blessed Father Kłopotowski, a three-day walking pilgrimage has also been coming to Loretto. It starts from the cathedral of the neighbouring Diocese of Drohiczyn.


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