Literary novel
Łukasz Orbitowski

About a religious ‘miracle’ in Communist Poland

Heniek drove straight from the community garden to Zamkowy Square, to SS Peter and Paul. He found Romek in the parish hall, trying to hook up a video player to the television. Romek was a modern sort of priest. On pilgrimages he played guitar and gave the impression of being happy to talk about any subject. He’d be just as willing to go to a pigsty as to prenuptial lessons. Heniek stopped in the doorway of the parish hall, stammering out ‘Praise be’ a few times. Romek was so absorbed in the battle with the cables and switching channels that he only heard him after a few repetitions. At last, he invited Heniek in and offered him some tea. Heniek greatly respected the priest, but was too proud to ever accept even a glass of water from anyone.

‘I’ve been setting up a VCR,’ Romek told him. ‘I want the young people to come here more often. Do you know how to hook it up? No, I’m sure you don’t. I’ve got a couple movies too. You want to watch something? You sure you won’t have anything to drink?’ He kept on jabbering like that, while Heniek stood there, his ears red as beets.

‘The Blessed Virgin appeared to me,’ Heniek finally declared.

That was enough to get Romek to crawl out from under the table with the TV on it and put the cord down.

‘What are you talking about, Heniek? You mean in a dream?’

‘It happened just now in the community garden. I was tying up my tomatoes, I went back to the shed for some string and Our Lady was already waiting there, on a little cloud.’

‘A little cloud?’ our priest said, making sure. Romek was exactly the type who had to hear everything twice.

‘Yes. And she was incredibly beautiful. She was wearing this light beige dress, a brown robe on top of it, and a crown just like the one in the painting from Licheń. And I also have to add she had this gentle little face and sad eyes. And such delicate hands, I mean, you could tell right away she was a real queen. I thought she seemed so fragile and when I was driving to see you it occurred to me that she lifts up all our sins to God. If I see her again I’ll try to apologise. But what would she get from me apologising?’

‘Well, not that much,’ agreed Romek. ‘This happened here, in our community garden?’

‘Yes! Please father, you have to tell people about this as quickly as possible!’

Romek pulled Heniek toward the door and, if I know him, he glanced once more at the video player and the cassettes in their cardboard boxes.

‘I will, sure, of course I will. These are great things, dear Heniek, the most marvellous things. We’ve got to be careful with things like this, because they’re fragile, delicate. It’s best if we talk tomorrow. Absolutely come see me, even first thing in the morning, but before you do,  make sure you get a good night’s sleep. And I’ll think everything through. We’ll make sure it’s done right. Well now, why should it be wrong?’

He closed the door behind him and plunged back among the cables. He plugged a few things in here, fiddled with the remote there, until he finally got it working, the screen turned blue and there, reflected on the screen sure enough, was my Heniek, with his knapsack and hands joined together as if in prayer.

‘I forgot to tell you, Father, that Our Lady healed me. She put her hands on my head and said there was nothing wrong with me. I mean, she didn’t say that, but that’s how I understood her words. “You’re healed,” that’s what I heard. Father, would you come with me to the garden now? Maybe Our Lady will appear there again. She said she would.’

‘What did she say exactly, Heniek?’ asked Romek.

‘Well, that she’d visit again. In a month, I mean, but maybe if you’re there, Father, she’ll come sooner.’

Romek thought for a moment and said:

‘If the Blessed Virgin promised to come in a month, then she probably won’t appear today, especially since she was already here. Why don’t you go, Heniek. We’ll chat tomorrow.’

Excerpt translated by Sean Gasper Bye

Literary novel
Łukasz Orbitowski

About a religious ‘miracle’ in Communist Poland

Publisher: Świat Książki, Warszawa 2019
Translation rights: Świat Książki,

Inspired by true events from 1983, Łukasz Orbitowski has created a quasi-journalistic book portraying the alleged apparitions of the Sacred Virgin and Christ in Oława, outside Wrocław. Mary and Jesus were said to have spoken to a forty-nine-year-old uneducated labourer, who devoted the rest of his life to his religious mission, until his death in 2002. He taught and – as he claimed – healed people. Yet the Catholic Church never recognised the apparitions in Oława, unlike those in Lourdes or Fatima. The Communist authorities attempted to hush up the matter, but news of the ‘miracle’ swiftly made its way around Communist Poland. Catholic pilgrims came to Oława from all over the country, hoping to be healed.

The narrator of Worship is the brother of the alleged visionary. A hairdresser by profession and a sceptic by disposition, he looks coolly on his younger brother’s experience. He was always the more resourceful and clever of the two. Suddenly, the brother he treated his whole life long as a silly fool who needed looking after turns out to possess the enormous charisma that draws crowds.

The style in which Worship is constructed has the narrator spin his tale, years later in free Poland, into a young journalist’s Dictaphone. He not only sketches out the facts of that period, but he also represents, beyond himself, the social mores of that era – of people pauperised by Communism, impoverished and parochial. He is a provincial not only in terms of geography but also mentality. He’s never left Oława, nor has he ever felt the need to.

With documentary precision, Łukasz Orbitowski guides us into the reality of the Communist-era periphery. He gives detailed descriptions of clothes, hairstyles, and cars, identifies social divisions, and portrays the entertainments to which people devoted their free time.

In interviews, Orbitowski declares himself an atheist, but he approaches the events he describes without an agenda. He doesn’t exaggerate what happened in Oława in 1983 and seems very curious about it himself. A very ambiguous novel written with sociological flair.

Marcin Kube, translated by Sean Gasper Bye

Selected samples

Julita Deluga
Wojtek Wawszczyk, Tomasz Leśniak
Anna Kańtoch
Andrzej Bobkowski
Wisława Szymborska
Zdzisław Kranodębski
Andrzej Nowak
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jarosław Jakubowski
Anna Piwkowska
Roman Honet
Miłosz Biedrzycki
Wojciech Chmielewski
Aleksandra Majdzińska
Tomasz Różycki
Maciej Hen
Jakub Nowak
Elżbieta Cherezińska
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
作者:沃伊切赫·維德瓦克(Wojciech Widłak), 插圖:亞歷珊德拉·克珊諾夫斯卡(Aleksandra Krzanowska)
文字:莫妮卡·烏特尼-斯特魯加瓦(Monika Utnik-Strugała), 概念和插圖:皮歐特·索哈(Piotr Socha)
作者:亞格涅絲卡·斯特爾馬什克(Agnieszka Stelmaszyk)
尤安娜·日斯卡(Joanna Rzyska)、阿嘉妲·杜德克(Agata Dudek)、瑪格熱妲·諾瓦克(Małgorzata Nowak) Druganoga出版社,華沙2021
艾麗莎·皮歐特夫斯卡(Eliza Piotrowska)
米科瓦伊·帕辛斯基(Mikołaj Pasiński)、瑪格熱妲·赫爾巴(Gosia Herba)
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
瑪麗安娜·奧克雷亞克(Marianna Oklejak)
拉法爾·科希克(Rafał Kosik)
亞歷珊德拉·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Aleksandra Woldańska-Płocińska)
巴托米耶·伊格納邱克(Bartłomiej Ignaciuk), 阿嘉塔·洛特-伊格納邱克(Agata Loth-Ignaciuk)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
羅珊娜·延澤耶夫斯卡-弗魯貝爾 (Roksana Jędrzejewska-Wróbel)
作者:普舎米斯瓦夫·維赫特洛維奇(Przemysław Wechterowicz) 插圖:艾米莉·吉烏巴克(Emilia Dziubak)
尤斯提娜·貝納雷(Justyna Bednarek) 插圖:丹尼爾·德拉圖爾(Daniel De Latour)
尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
瑪格熱妲·斯文多夫斯卡(Małgorzata Swędrowska)、尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
Jan Kochanowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Olga Tokarczuk
Władysław Stanisław Reymont
An Ancient Tale
Stanisław Rembek
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Maria Dąbrowska
Stefan Żeromski
Bronisław Wildstein
Zbigniew Herbert / Wisława Szymborska
Karol Wojtyła
Wiesław Myśliwski
Czesław Miłosz
Anna Świrszczyńska / Melchior Wańkowicz
Tadeusz Borowski / Gustaw Herling-Grudziński
Wiesław Helak
Góra Tabor
Adriana Szymańska
Paweł Rzewuski
Mariusz Staniszewski
Radek Rak
Urszula Honek
Kazimierz Orłoś
Rafał Wojasiński
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Józef Mackiewicz
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Józef Mackiewicz
Witold Szabłowski
Andrzej Muszyński
Wiesław Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dariusz Sośnicki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Jakub Małecki
אנדז'יי ספקובסקי
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jakub Małecki
Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Przemysław "Trust" Truściński
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


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Piotr Mitzner
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Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
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Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
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Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
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Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
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Barbara Klicka
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Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
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Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
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Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
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Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
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Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
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Wacław Holewiński
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