Saint Elisabeth Convent Will Participate in Festivities Dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Lord at the Holy Grabarka Mountain in Eastern Poland on August 13-19.
Mt Grabarka, the “Mountain of Crosses”, is located in Mielnik Forest not far from the border with Belarus. This holy mountain has been a special place for the Orthodox not only in Poland but also in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Pilgrims come here to pray for healing, to find peace, and to become closer to God.
This place was first mentioned in 1710. A legend has it that there was a plague outbreak during which a local peasant had a vision to make a cross, gather other people who were able to walk, and go to Grabarka Mountain. He complied and led all who were able to move to the mountain. The sick villagers followed the instructions, and the epidemic ended almost instantly. When they returned home, they saw that their spouses and children had also been healed.
Little by little, an Orthodox convent in honour of Ss Martha and Mary was built near the Holy Mountain. The tradition of foot pilgrimages to the site is maintained to this day.
The feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord, celebrated by the Orthodox on August 19, is a very special day for the convent and Mount Grabarka. Hundreds of pilgrims arrive at the site from across the globe to participate in the celebration, each of them carrying a cross as a symbol of salvation and repentance. The pilgrimage takes several days and finishes at the Holy Transfiguration Church. The pilgrims crawl around the church on their knees three times, and their knees are bruised after that. Later, each person leaves his or her cross on the mountain as a donation. The mountain is dotted with crosses, big and small. You are left to wonder at the number of crosses and the powerful and vibrant faith of those who erected them.
Sisters and brothers of St Elisabeth Convent take part in the celebrations of the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Grabarka every year. This tradition was established more than a decade ago with the blessing of the abbess of Ss Martha and Mary Convent. Every year, our sisters and brothers spend the hot August days on the Holy Mountain doing a demanding and honorary mission.
The exhibition and fair set up by St Elisabeth Convent is aimed at raising funds to support our social projects. Most of our workshops provide jobs to socially vulnerable people, people with special needs, and low-income families with many children. Dobrodel Social Workshop has been established by the Convent this year, allowing people with autistic disorders to have a permanent source of income.
Sisters of St Elisabeth convent offer work opportunities to people who, for a number of reasons such as troubled fates, stigmatising health issues, and difficult life situations cannot compete on the extremely challenging labour market. Working in the convent’s workshops helps them to grow, contribute to a common cause and feel empowered and useful.
Our sisters visit the patients of residential care facilities for the mentally challenged in Minsk on a regular basis. There are two rehabilitation centres, one for men and the other for women, run by St Elisabeth Convent. It is there that people with substance dependencies and former prisoners get the chance to return to normal life after rehabilitation.
This year, our sisters will offer a variety of handmade products, including church supplies, books, pastry, gifts and ceramics, natural beauty and wellness products, made in St Elisabeth Convent. All these items are filled with warmth and love of the hands that created them. Each item was made by the people who had decided to devote their lives to serving God. All proceeds will go to support those who have no one else to rely on.