Niepokalanów, known as, ‘The Shrine of Our Mary Immaculate and Saint Maximilian Kolbe’ is a Roman Catholic religious community located about 40km west of Warsaw.
The shrine is one of the newest in Poland but also one of the most popular, primarily due to the cult following of Saint Maximillian who was canonised in 1982.
Maximillian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan Friar who founded Niepokalanów in 1927 on land donated by Duke Drucki-Lubecki. The aim was to build a new monastery and in the autumn of the same year the first wooden barracks were built and a consecration of the new monastery took place on 7 December 1927.
Prior to the Second World War, Niepokalanów was the largest monastery in the world, housing as many as 760 men. It contained a printing house producing many publications. One of these publications was called, ‘The Knight of the Immaculate’ and had a press run of 750,000 copies a month.
During the Second World War, Maximillian Kolbe was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for the crime of hiding Jews from the Nazis. He died in the camp, giving his life for the life of another prisoner and it was this act of heroism, which fuelled the cult of St. Maximillian to become widespread at the end of the war.
After the war the printing house in Niepokalanów was reopened and The Knight of the Immaculate was issued again. A new church was built between 1948-1954 and this and the monastery were visited by Pope John Paul II during his second Pastoral Visit in Poland on 18th of June 1983. The visit of the Pope made Niepokalanów famous not only in Poland, but also abroad.
Today over 700,000 pilgrims come to Niepokalanów, to visit the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also the monastic cell of St. Maximilian. They also come to see the Panorama Theatre, which commemorates 1,000 years of Christianity in Poland and highlights the most important events in the history of the church in Poland.
Visit the official Niepokalanów website.