Widok na Sanktuarium w Kalwarii Zebrzydowskiej na tle błękitnego nieba

It is possible, however, that the Christian religion had entered the area covered by today’s Małopolska region long before 966. Many researchers point to the traces of early Slavic liturgy that was promoted by St Methodius and his disciple, St Cyril in Małopolska. The new religion could have reached Małopolska thanks to its southern neighbor – the Great Moravian State. It would be very hard to determine today whether this really occurred. The history of today’s archdiocese of Krakow is strongly connected to that of Małopolska. In the year 1000, a famous Congress took place in Gniezno: Emperor Otto III arrived on a pilgrimage to the grave of St Adalbert (Wojciech) and visited Prince Boleslaus the Brave (Bolesław Chrobry). It was with his assent that the archbishopric of Gniezno, together with three new subordinate bishoprics including the one in Kraków, were established. At the time Kraków was already an important centre of the new religion. According to legends, St Adalbert preached in the place where the little Romanesque church stands in today’s Main Market Square. Important centres of worship quickly sprang up in the region. One of the fi rst was Tropie with the Hermitage of St Świerad and St Benedict. It was followed by Kraków’s Church “na Skałce” (“on the Rock”) and Szczepanów – both connected to the veneration of St Stanislaus of Kraków (Stanisław ze Szczepanowa). The famous sanctuary of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów was established in the 12th century and for hundreds of years became one of the most important pilgrimage centres in Polish lands, if not in all Europe. Time was passing by, and the number of places to which pilgrims could direct their steps began to increase, especially in Krakow, where relics of saints were deposited in many churches. Moreover, the establishment of numerous sanctuaries was related to the counter-reformation – the revival movement that began in the Catholic Church in the latter half of the 16th century as an answer to the spread of Protestantism. The sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was one of those established at that time.

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