History of Sanctuary
The settlement Pecare - Piekary, which was known from the 12"' century documents had a small church of St. Bartholomew the Apostle from 1303. In the side altar there was an image of BVM in type of Hodegetria, by an unknown author and sponsor. Despite a lot of dramatic events together with frequent changes of Piekary owners and wars, the Image remained untouched. In 1659 Priest Jakub Roczkowski moved it into the High Altar. The Jesuits, who were brought to Piekary in 1679, strengthened the fame of the Image by belter organization of religious life. It caused an increased influx of pilgrims not only from Silesia but from Galicia, Moravia, Slovakia. Hungary and Pomerania. Outstanding veneration of Our Lady of Piekary was confirmed by peregrination of Her Image to Prague (1680) and Hradec Kralove (1681) thanks to which both cities were saved from the spreading plague. For fear of the Northern War the Jesuits first moved the Image to Nysa and later to Opole (1702) from where, despite lots of efforts, the Image did not return. A 17th century replica of the Image by an unknown artist was placed in the High Altar of Piekary church. In spite of the fact the pilgrimage movement did not cease. King John III Sobieski on his way to Vienna (1683). King August II the Strong (16%), King August III the Saxon (1734) and lots of the mighty of this world prayed in front of the Image of Our Lady of Piekary. During the tunes of the Venerable Parish Priest Jan Alojzy Ficek. in the years 1826 1862, Piekary began to play the function of a spiritual capital of Silesia. Thanks to the activity of that pioneer of social Catholicism, a movement of building a pilgrimage church arising from the lowest ranks of society was created (1842 1849) integrating both the Catholic* and the Evangelicals. A mass sobriety movement together with folk missions uniting the society around the faith and Polish language developed as well. In the 19th century Piekary played an exceptional role as a religious national publishing centre. On 15th August 1925, thanks to the efforts of Archbishop August Hlond, the Image of Our Lady of Piekary was crowned by papal crowns crown offered by Pope Pius XL During preparations for the coronation (1924) the church was decorated by wall paintings by Otto Kowalewski. In the mid-war period there were various reunions, regional and national gatherings there with participation of both state government officials and church authorities After World War II the pilgrimage movement revived. In 1962 the church was given the title of Basilica Minor granted by Pope John XIII. At that time a special meaning received the pilgrimage of men and male adolescents usually taking place on the last Sunday of May. Katowice bishop, Herbert Bednorz, very sensitive to working problems, played a major role in the history of the pilgrimage. In 1967, Krakow Metropolitan, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, came to the pilgrimage, and from that time he took part in working people pilgrimages uninterruptedly for 12 years preaching homilies on working people, their rights and dignity. In 1979, during the first pilgrimage to his homeland the Polish Pope offered Our Lady of Piekary a papal stole and a candle. Only during the second pilgrimage to his homeland in 1983, Holy lather could pray in front of the Image of Our Lady of Piekary. However, it did not happen in Piekary but in Katowice where the Image was transferred. During that meeting Pope John Paul II granted Our Lady of Piekary the title "Mother of Social Justice and Love" and gave Her a gold rosary.
In 2000 the Basilica was appointed a Jubilee Church. In 2009 the Sanctuary was included by the Apostolic Penitentiary to the Community of Churches within a spiritual kinship with the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. The Sanctuary in Piekary is created not only by the Basilica with the Miraculous Image of the Madonna but by the nearby Calvary (1896). Built on the plan of Jerusalem Calvary it encourages to consider the most important events from the lives of Lord Jesus and BVM.