August 11, 2008

Old Road Chapels as Prayers


If you travel in Poland, you can see plenty of chapels at the roads. These are materialised prayers of the people for things that often nobody already remembers.
It is so many of them around, that they just became part of the landscape. Appearing suddenly, sometimes far away from any housings. As you can see - there are still people taking care of them. Often you can see fresh flowers.
We are so much used to it. They are just there. Nobody asks why. Tourists coming to Poland always ask questions. So, to let you know more about it, I will explain shortly.

Chapels around Poland are either wooden or made of bricks and concrete. Can be found in many places. Some of them are very old. Sometimes made by ordinary people, sometimes by nobles or artists. Always this is either 'thank you' for extraordinary help from trouble, or a prayer for help, or just manifestation of religiousness.
Some people still remember stories connected with it. I would love to collect them.
This chapel I saw on my Sunday biking, close to my home.
If you look carefully, you can see little ad on the tree. This is very particular prayer: "Cat got lost" - must be very loved cat, right?


Anonymous said...

That is really interesting. The Romans were setting up roadside shrines in England "in fulfillment of a vow" to various gods or godesses nearly 2000 years ago.

Even 500 years ago there were roadside crosses sometimes marking paths like one near my house which marks a way through what was then a marsh to a village.

I guess that England lost hers during the Civil War in the 1600s. It is lovely to know that some countries still have them intact.

Thank you for such an interesting post.

Naturegirl said...

Ewa the meaning behind these chapels moves me. I look forward to seeing many different things and customs in Europe when I travel there next week!
My father is Polish but passed on when I was a child so we know nothing of his family..but if I would know them for sure I would be travelling to your country. Stay tuned to my blog as I will be posting while on my journey!hugs NG

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

How fascinating. I read about a shrine similar to this in Frances Mayes' book "Under the Tuscan Sun". To see the photo you've shared is really fascinating. Thank you!


Unknown said...

Dear Ewa, tks for popping over, I like your blog, so I'll blogroll it so I can pop over often. You've got very nice pictures and this is an interesting one..though we dont have it here.

Anonymous said...

Cara Ewa,

I happened to find your blog and am amazed! Strong pictures and you have a "story" to tell.
I am looking for "twin" blogs in Europe, blogs that I can identify with and would like to linke yours to mine.
I live permanently in Umbria, Italy - an expat. My blog is meant to attract others to my enchanting region in general and inspire potential "settlers". My blog address is

See what you think and please get back, if you think a link would be fruitful for both of us.

My web site is

Best regards, Ingrid

Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Ewa I think it is a nice custom and perhaps a great comfort to a lot of people. Are there still new ones build or are just the old ones maintained? In Italy are similar small devotion places in walls where a saint or Maria is worshipped with flowers and prayers.

Boxwood Cottage said...

Oh yes she must have been very much loved. What a sweet polish tradition these chapels are!

Ewa I want to let you know that I have put a feed footer back on my blog with the help of my daughter.
You can put this address:
into Google reader for example to subscribe to my blog.

Have a happy Wednesday!


Unknown said...

This is a beautiful tribute to prayer, and a lovely tradition. Karen

Anonymous said...

OMG, I love these. You see them sometimes in Mexico. I *wish* we saw them here. What you see here are crosses or flowers (often fake) or stuffed animals, etc. in those places where people have DIED, usually violent deaths, usually in car accidents. They are sad and kind of creepy, and end up marking a spot of unfortunate deaths. You should write a book about this, Ewa, and track the early history as Melanie is saying. See if you can find the oldest ones in Europe.
That would be fabulous! (Need an assistant??) xxoxo

Ewa said...

This subject seem to be very interesting. I feel like really exploring it.

I will check what's going on during your trip - it will bu such a fun to follow you!

In "under the Tuscan sun' there is very funny Polish thread :) the book and the movie also are so optimistic - you reminded me of it - I think I will see it again, or maybe better I look for book - I have not red it before.

Welcome and I hope to see you againg here :)

As you know, I visited your blog and it seems very interesting :) Umbria is not so popular, but looks like worth exploring.

I think there are still new ones build, but not often. Mainly they are old.

Thank you for opening a subscription channel :) young generation is sometimes more helpful than painful :)

They always bring comfort when you suddenly bump on them. Very spiritual places.

What a great idea!
These shrines are different places.
We also have such one like you describe - they are in memoriam of people died suddenly in that place, usually in car accidents, but also different way.
I got really interested with chapels, so more postings and pictures will be coming.

Victoria Cummings said...

Ewa - I also find these shrines fascinating. Have you been to the one for the Black Madonna? When I visited Poland, I found a shrine in the hallway between my relatives' apartment and the elevator. It was where the building had been bombed during WWII and it served to remind them of what had happened every time they came or left their home. For me, the Madonna is a reminder of the mother inside each of us. There's a book by Sue Monk Kidd called "The Secret Life of Bees" that I think you would enjoy.

Mother Nature said...

Thanks for explaining this lovely custom.

teresa g. said...

We used to have some of these too, but now not so often, as people are getting more and more distant from religion.

But it reminds me that in some points our distant countries share a lot. Catholic tradition helps that, I think.