Shrines of Warsaw, The

Anna Beata Bohdziewicz, Magdalena Stopa
This book received an honorary award from the Association of History Devotees for the best book on the history of Warsaw in 2008/2009. The album features shrines from Warsaw’s courtyards. The capital’s shrines are a unique phenomenon. They stand in tenement courtyards, hang from gateways or in the stairwells of buildings which survived the ravages of war. For years they went unnoticed, today they are the object of increasing interest. And yet many of them are threatened with extinction whilst the stories of how they came to be are virtually unknown. In 1943 people began to set them up on a large scale. The Katyń massacre had just come to light, the tragedy of the Ghetto had been played out, the terror raged, street round-ups and curfew were an everyday occurrence. The occupying forces banned the celebration of church holidays which did not fall on a Sunday, they prohibited processions and public gatherings. As soon as the tenement building gates were shut for the night, and people could feel at home and safe, shrines began to appear and people gathered together to pray, despite the ban on gatherings. The album contains over 200 photographs of shrines with their intimate, fascinating world, full of personal tokens of remembrance: rosaries, religious gorget plates and medals, personal tokens attesting to First Holy Communions. The photographs are accompanied by the reminiscences of those inhabitants of Warsaw who can remember the building of the shrines and the events later associated with them.

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