Battlefield Apparition

This is the ninth article in a series on approved apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

At the Battle of Nations in 1813, the largest battle in Europe until World War I, a coalition of armies handed Napoleon Bonaparte one of his most devastating defeats.

One soldier, Tomasz Klossowski of Poland, suffered a battlefield wound. Facing death, far from home on foreign soil, he prayed to the Blessed Mother and asked her not to let him perish abroad. He wanted to die surrounded by his family in Poland.

Our Lady more than heard his plea. Dressed in a dark red gown, a magnificent crown, and a golden mantle, she crossed the battlefield and appeared to Tomasz. As this wounded soldier beheld her beauty, his pain dissipated.

In his account, Tomasz said, "The Virgin's ecstatically beautiful face was inexpressibly sorrowful; her sad eyes looked down from under half-closed eyelids onto a white eagle, which the Mother of God clasped to her bosom."

Mary promised Tomasz that he would return safely to his country. She told him that when he returned, he needed to look for an image of her just as she had appeared.

Our Lady said, "My people will pray before this image and shall draw many graces at my hands in the hardest times of trial."

Tomasz spent years traveling the countryside, looking for this image. In 1836, he found it in the small town of Lgota, Poland, and decided to hang it from a pine tree by a walking path in the forest so that passers-by would see it.

By 1939, an estimated 3,000 prayer intentions had been answered through devotion to this image. Then in 1952, after a committee of bishops examined Tomasz's story, they decided to move this image to a parish in Lichen, Poland.

During World War II, the Nazi youth organization confiscated the Lichen parish. Thankfully, the image remained untouched. Then, in 1949, this church was entrusted to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who restored the sanctuary, which had been damaged during the war.

In 1950, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a poor shepherd named Mikolaj Sikatka in Lichen. Mary told him that she wanted the laity to attend Mass more regularly, priests to celebrate the liturgy more reverently, and for all to pray the Rosary more often. Our Lady warned Mikolaj that if people did not repent, they would suffer a deadly plague. Finally, she asked him to have her image moved to a more suitable place, promising that those who prayed before it would receive many graces.

But Mikolaj endured much persecution for trying to spread Mary's message, so much so that he ended up in prison for it.

Everyone considered his story a hoax until an epidemic broke out, just as Our Lady had predicted. Remembering Mikolaj's warning, they flocked to the image and prayed the Rosary for those who were ill.

In 1965, Pope Blessed Paul VI recognized the image of Our Lady of Lichen as, indeed, miraculous.

On the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady in 1967, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski crowned the image of Our Lady of Lichen in front of more than 100,000 people.

In 1999, Pope St. John Paul II consecrated a new Basilica to Our Lady of Lichen, giving the image a suitable home in response to Our Lady's request. Many continue to receive miracles and graces through devotion to this image. In fact, the Basilica to Our Lady of Lichen - where the Marians' Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski, was beatified in 2007 - has become one of Poland's most famous pilgrimage sites, attracting more than 1 million people every year.

View the previous article in this series.

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