Orthodox Christians flock to the Polish Shrine

Thousands of Polish Orthodox Christians gathered on the Holy mountain Grabarka in Eastern Poland for the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which is celebrated on 18 and 19 August.

Many of them arrived on foot to the site which is considered the most significant to Orthodox Christians in Poland.

The largest group, numbering several hundred people, began their pilgrimage in Białystok, north-eastern Poland, a region which is the centre of the Polish Orthodox Church.

The main service, which is to be held in the evening, is to be officiated by Metropolitan Sawa, the leader of the Polish Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Tikhon of all America and Canada.

The Holy Mount of Grabarka, with its small church and convent, is a sacred place for Orthodox Christians in Poland. The slopes of the hill are dotted with thousands of votive crosses which have been left by pilgrims over the years.

The tradition of pilgrimages to Grabarka dates back to 1710 when the place was believed to have saved people from a cholera epidemic.

The Orthodox Church claims to have up to half a million members in Poland. In the latest national census in Poland, however, only 156 thousand people declared themselves as Orthodox Christians.

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