The Holy Mount of Grabarka (Święta Góra Grabarka in Polish), eastern Poland, also known as the Mountain of Crosses, is considered to be the holiest location in the country Orthodox Christians.
It is the site of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and is home to the women's monastery of Ss. Marta and Maria. It is the traditional pilgrimage centre for Orthodox Christians. They arrive in large numbers especially on the 19th of August, the day of Transfiguration of Jesus.
The most prominent and well-known feature of Grabarka is the forest of crosses surrounding the Orthodox church, all brought to the Mount by pilgrims. Pilgrims have been bringing votive crosses to the hill ever since. They come in different forms and sizes, from small ones made of sticks, through bigger wooden crosses to few concrete ones. Some of them are already rotten, some brand new, often with epitaphs engraved in Cyrillic alphabet. All of them, however, were brought for personal intention by diseased, distressed and those seeking hope.
After an all-night vigil and prayer on the Holy Mount of the Pilgrims stop by the stream and bath the face and sore parts of their bodies with cloth soaked with water as the stream is said to have healing properties. Wet cloths are left then by the stream or hung on the tree branches as a symbol of the diseases and worries leaving their bodies and left behind.
Worship of this place and tradition of bringing crosses was born in the 18th century. The famous miracle was recorded in 1710 during the cholera epidemics. Decimated by disease, inhabitants of Podlasie region fled the towns and villages for fear of their lives. At that time an old man experienced a revelation that the only way for salvation was to go to the Mountain of Grabarka with a cross. He went there with some other villagers, brought a cross, bathed his face and drank water from the spring spurting at the foot of the hill and prayed. A miracle happened: all those who followed him were cured and saved. To express their gratitude, the people built a wooden chapel on the top of the hill. It was later extended into the Transfiguration Orthodox Church.
In 1990 the wooden Orthodox church was completely destroyed by the fire. Only two icons survived and a fragment of the Gospel Book. Immediately, reconstruction works began. A new church was consecrated in 1998.
See other beautiful places in the Podlasie region:
- "Versailles of Podlasie" - Branicki Palace in Białystok
- Palace in Choroszcz- Summer residence of hetman Branicki
- Supraśl - the pearl of Podlasie region
- Supraśl Lavra - important site of Orthodox culture in Poland
- Kruszyniany - Tatar village where Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox live together
- Pentowo - European Stork Village
- "The Great Synagogue" in Tykocin, Poland