From a pagan cult site to a Christian sanctuary – Święta Lipka and Gietrzwałd within the sacred landscape of Warmia
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Ośrodek Badań Naukowych im. Wojciecha Kętrzyńskiego w Olsztynie
Robert Klimek
Online publication date: 2016-11-23
Publication date: 2016-11-23
KMW 2016;293(3):525–537
Święta Lipka and Gietrzwałd are amongst the most famous Marian sanctuaries associated with Warmia. Gietrzwałd is located in the southern part of Warmia, and Święta Lipka just outside its eastern border, but its fate was inseparably connected with Warmia. It is presumed that some churches in Warmia were built near places associated with pagan worship. These could be, amongst others: Ełdytach, Lidzbark Warminski, Plutach and Świątkach. Apparently, Christianity, which inititally destroyed pagan symbols, over the long term took advantage of local sacred traditions attributed to sacred pagan sites. This was primarily expressed in the construction of churches that took over part of the traditions of places of ancient worship, such as Święta Lipka and Gietrzwałd. The first information concerning pagans at Lake Dejnowa (Denow) dates back to 1340. It is widely known that since the 15th century there was quite a common pilgrimage to the linden tree, which pilgrims considered sacred due to the appearance of the Virgin Mary at the site. Already in the 15th century, there was a chapel next to the linden. The Jesuits established themselves there from 1639. Since then, Lipka has become an important centre of Marian devotion. The presence of a cult site near Gietrzwałd can be indicated by the text of the Prussian oath written in the Iuera Pruthenorum, in which the nearby Lake Rentyńskie (formerly Gilbing) appears: “I put this Prussian court deep as Gilbing, as high as the oak, as strong as stone, if this is correct or incorrect” The conclusion is that the archaic cult centre continued in nearby Gietrzwałd. In 1877 a Marian apparition was seen here.