PRE-CHRISTIAN GNIEZNO (formerly Gniezdno from "nest") – the main tribal center of Polan and the seat of the prince.
Gniezno was founded in the 7th and 8th century. According to the legend given in Kronika Wielkopolska, praojciec-eponim Polan (Lechitów), Lech, after parting with two brothers, Czech and Rus, settled in the place, where he saw an eagle in a nest on an oak tree between the lakes, which he took as a good sign. From then on, the white eagle was to be included in the coat of arms of his successors. Legenda ta, unless it was fully deduced by the chronicler from the name of the first capital of Poland, may refer to the central position of Gniezno in cosmology, in connection with the axis mundi in the form of a space tree. Usually Slavic shrines, to be a model of the cosmos, were put on in places, where the tall tree stood (sycamore, oak) with water at the roots. As the seat of the ruler of Polans, Gniezno undoubtedly played an important religious role even in the pagan period, competing with Kruszwica – the capital of Goplan. A wooden figure of a horned deity was found in the nearby Lednogóra, associated with Wołos (Weles), the god of cattle (reproduction?) and the underground sphere. The sacred focusing on the border of the settlement was also revealed through the carved head of a boar on the embankment, all-Slavic chthonic-aquatic monster, probably the figure of Weles. Hooks in the construction of the ramparts decorated animal heads to multiply the defense force. It is also known, that when the embankments were built, the skull of the aurochs was placed under them as a bet offering. Długosz gives in his Chronicle, that in Gniezno there was "the most important temple, to which pilgrimages were made on all sides "erected to" Pluto called Nija ", guardian of the souls of the dead. Maciej Stryjkowski (citing – mistakenly – on Kadłubka) mentions the temple of the fertility goddess Marzanna-Cerera. Both pieces of information are also considered the invention of chroniclers, used to Roman centralization and theology. Archaeologists say, however, that in the area of Lech Hill or in the former Gniezno borough, or in the area currently built up by the Gniezno cathedral, there are foundations of a pagan cult site with traces of sacrifice. Under the foundations of the oldest Christian temple founded by Mieszko I (The Chronicle of Greater Poland states, that it was built on the site of the pagan temple of Nya) a four-sided hearth was found, used for a long time. Because the find concerns the oldest settlement layer of Gniezno, and there are no traces of other buildings around, it is believed, that it was a temple, separated from the rest of the castle by a palisade.
GNIEZNO-sanctuary of St.. Wojciech, the main patron of Poland, in the primate's basilica of. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The sanctuary is situated in the center of G., on Lech Mountain. The present confession of St.. Wojciech refers mainly to the earlier seventeenth-century baroque confession. The silver reliquary of St. 1622, with the relics of the saint, shaped like a coffin, leaning on six eagles. On the sides of the coffin, scenes from the life of the Martyr are depicted.
After Bolesław the Brave laid the body of St.. Adalbert in the Gniezno cathedral of St. 977, especially after his canonization (998) G. became the most important cult and religious center in Poland. W 998 Pope Sylvester II decided to erect the first metropolis in Poland here. The rank of this place grew even more due to the pilgrimage, what in 1000 to the tomb of the Holy Emperor Otto III (it is considered the first Christian pilgrimage in Poland). Unfortunately, in 1038 Czech prince Brzetysław destroyed the basilica, and valuable relics were taken to Prague. The revival of the cult followed the reconstruction of the cathedral and the translation of the relics of St.. Wojciech, probably from one of the Polish churches (1090). W 1127 during the reconstruction of the cathedral, a relic of the martyr's head was found. For centuries, Polish monarchs and princes went to the Holy Sepulcher. He was deeply revered by the representatives of the Piast dynasty, Jagiellonians and Waza, haunting the sanctuary, incl. on patronal holidays (23 April and 20 October). W 1113 penitential pilgrimage to G., for blinding his brother Zbigniew, Bolesław Krzywousty took place. Władysław Jagiełło came here after the Battle of Grunwald, the road from Trzemeszno to G.. he held on foot. To St.. Wojciech was visited by numerous people, especially merchants coming to the city for the Wojcieszan fairs. W 1419 the Archbishop of Gniezno received the title of the Primate of Poland. W 1512 Pope Leo XIII gave the sanctuary special indulgences. W XVII i XVIII w. G. began to lose its importance as one of the main pilgrimage centers in Poland. During the partitions, due to the historical role of the city and the sanctuary, the so-called. national pilgrimage to G.. W 1897 The 900th anniversary of the death of St.. Wojciech, to which thousands of pilgrims came.
After regaining independence, the role of G.. rose again. W 1919 the first episcopal congress in reborn Poland took place at the tomb of the saint. W 1930 st. Wojciech was proclaimed the patron of the Catholic Action and since then it has organized an annual one, numerous pilgrimages to Gniezno. The movement intensified even in the first post-war years, on the 950th anniversary of Wojciech's death in St. 1947 attended by over 150 thousand. faithful from all over Poland. Patch 50. i 60. brought about an almost complete disappearance of group pilgrimages, however, April indulgences and important church jubilees were still solemnly celebrated. W 1991 in preparation for the 1000th anniversary of Wojciech's death, the pilgrimage of a replica of the Saint's coffin has begun in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Gniezno.
Currently, the sanctuary of St.. Wojciech is visited annually by over 150 thousand. pilgrims and tourists. The April indulgence with the participation of the Primate and the Episcopate of Poland and foreign church dignitaries has the greatest scope. There is then a solemn procession with the relics of the saint from the church of St.. Michael on Lech Hill.
Two papal pilgrimages to St. 1979 i 1997. During the last one, connected with the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Martyrdom of St.. Wojciech, The presidents who came to meet John Paul II paid homage to the Saint 7 Central European countries. At that time, the pope consecrated the new main altar in the basilica, which is a jubilee gift from the German Episcopate.