Nurzec-Stacja, Poland, August 23, 2021
The Polish Church held its annual Transfiguration pilgrimage to the Grabarka Mount of Crosses this year on August 18 and 19, thus continuing a tradition that dates to 1710, when a cholera epidemic raged in eastern Poland. Since then, thousands of believers have brought homemade crosses in procession to the mountain, erecting them as prayers for the living.
The Holy Mount of Grabarka, near the border with Belarus, is considered to be the holiest site in Poland for Orthodox Christians. It is home to the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Convent of Sts. Martha and Mary.
This year’s celebrations were also special due to the arrival of a copy of the Chełm Icon of the Mother of God, before which the faithful prayed for help and spiritual consolation.
On the evening of August 18, Abbess Mother Hermione formally greeted His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa and the other hierarchs of the Polish Church who participated in the feast.
Before the start of the All-Night Vigil, His Beatitude addressed the gathered faithful, encouraging them to always turn to God in difficult moments in life. He continued, speaking of the importance of Mt. Grabarka:
The feast of the Transfiguration is a celebration of light. Christ showed the fullness of His Divinity to us in the persons of the apostles who were with Him on Mt. Tabor and it continues to this day... The work of God’s providence in this place was great throughout the centuries and it is today too. In difficult moments, times of trouble, various epidemics, people came to the icon of Christ the Savior carrying their joys, their sufferings, diseases, where they received help according to their faith... Today we’re also experiencing a pandemic, which is nothing new. This has happened more than once in human history. In difficult moments of suffering, we also come to God because He’s our doctor, while God’s house is a spiritual hospital. Just as the body is healed in the hospital, the soul is healed in church. That is why our churches were, are, and always will be open to those in need of medicine for the soul.
Services were then held throughout the night, including the Vigil, the Akathist for the Departed, and Divine Liturgies at 1:00, 4:00, and 6:30 AM, each celebrated by a hierarch of the Polish Church.
The main Divine Liturgy was later celebrated by Met. Sawa and several other hierarchs and clerics, followed by a procession and the traditional blessing of fruits.
Thousands of Orthodox faithful also processed to Supraśl Monastery earlier this month in honor of the monastery’s wonderworking icon.