Polish Walking Tours from Essen to Neviges in 1981-2005

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Tomasz Nowicki


In Polish tradition, walking pilgrimages to Marian shrines are a typical manifestation of being religious. One example of a reference to this centuries-old Polish ritual is the initiative started in 1981 by Polish youths from the Polish Catholic Mission in Essen.

The article is based on the archival documentation of the Central Archives of the Light–Life Movement in Lublin. The series of files concerning these peregrinations comprises 18 file folders from the years 1981-2005.

At the beginning the initiative was private, but in the years to come it gradually gained momentum. From 1985, its organization was helped by the oasis community from Carlsberg in Rhineland Palatinate, focused around Father Franciszek Blachnicki. It was then that intensive organisational growth of the pilgrimage took place. The Light–Life Movement took over the spiritual care of the pilgrims, whose numbers grew in the following years.

The participants came from all the West German länder. Most of them were young people, but there were also older people and even young children. The pilgrims usually set off from the parish of the Holy Trinity in Eiberg (Essen). They walked through the western districts of Bochum (Dalhausen), then through Nierenhof and Langenberg, arriving at the shrine in Neviges from the east on a Saturday, and then on Sunday they joined the general celebrations of the Polish Pilgrimage to Neviges organized by the Priests of Christ.

The pilgrimage on foot from Essen to the Marian shrine in Neviges has become part of the traditions cultivated by the Polish communities in Germany. The pilgrimages are counted from the first one organised 40 years ago.

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