Grabarka – a village located near Siemiatycze, Podlaskie Voivodeship, Poland – is an Orthodox pilgrimage centre, famous nationwide. By 300-year tradition, members of congregation come to the Holy Mountain each year on August 18-19, celebrating the Day of Transfiguration of the Saviour. In historical written accounts, the importance of Grabarka is repeatedly compared to that of Jasna Góra Monastery (eng. Luminous Mound) in Czestochowa, Poland.
The Day of Transfiguration of the Saviour
Saviour’s Transfiguration, described in the Bible by evangelists – Matthew, Mark and Luke –refers to Jesus meeting with apostles Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. According to the New Testament, Jesus manifested himself before his disciples in his glory, talking to Elijah.
The Transfiguration in the East has been celebrated since the 6th century, and 11th century in Poland. In a calendar of Church holidays and festivals, this date marked one of the most important feast days. Not only is the Transfiguration a commemoration of the change in the appearance and resurrection of Christ, but also the call for disciples to transfigure spiritually.
The spring, situated at the foot of the Holy Mountain, became famous for many miraculous healings. Protecting local community against spreading epidemic of, probably, cholera was the first and biggest one. Tradition of cleansing body with a kerchief wet in the stream flowing from the spring is still cultivated. Afterwards, the pilgrims leave the kerchiefs on the bank as a symbol of leaving behind their ailments and illnesses.
Pilgrims, through participation in a procession to the Holy Mountain, are seeking to clean their souls and gain absolution. Some of them bring votive crosses, which remain on the Mountain after blessing. During annual celebrations, which have been taking place for over 300 years, several thousand wooden crosses have been laid as testimonies by the pilgrims. On each of them there is a written intention and a prayer to God. According to estimations, the number of crosses has already exceeded 10 000.
Visit this website to gain more information on the Day of Transfiguration of the Saviour and the Holy Mountain.
I would like to thank the Chancery of the Archbishop of Warsaw and Metropolitan of All Poland for allowing to make photographic documentation during celebrations on the Holy Mountain of Grabarka on August 18-19, 2011.