Remigiusz Mazur-Hanaj

Sacrality of cultural landscape of Janów Lubelski
Research in the municipality of Janów Lubelski was carried out in October 2010
during two visits, which lasted one week. Due to its short duration the research is not
comprehensive but more of a reconnaissance. Its goal was to capture the overall image and
character of the sacral landscape of Janów and the surrounding villages. The research consists
of 21 interviews, of which 12 were recorded. More than 300 photographs were taken.
Therefore, this text is more of a sketch. I would like to thank Janów inhabitants Józef
Łukasiewicz and Zbigniew Butryn for their valuable help and advice.
Historical sketch
Janów Lubelski was founded relatively late. The relevant document was issued by
King Władyslaw IV in 1640.1 The initiative for the foundation of the town belonged to
Catherine Zamoyska, widow of the Grand Crown Chancellor, who wanted to develop the
Zamoyski estate.2 Janów lies in the vicinity of a huge forest complex called Puszcza
Sandomierska which has, since the end of the Middle Ages, been subject to a very slow
settlement process. The dynamic management of land, forestry trade, the development of
trade routes, communication and urbanization, that is to say, the creation of administrative and
economic centers, improved the administration of the estate and generated income important
in terms of the contemporary economic situation [Rożek 2000, p. 10-12].
From the historical perspective of the cultural landscape the most important aspect for
this work is religiosity, which together with the aforementioned rational reasons, co-created
the town. It gave sense to its existence and laid down a certain moral and spiritual order. This
was an essential element with regards to the founding of many cities. Janów was initially part
of the Biała village, the oldest parish in the area, created before 1325. It gained its current
name in 1653. The town is situated at the junction of two different geographical regions:
Wyżyna Lubelska (Lublin Upland) and Kotlina Sandomierska (Sandomierz Dell). This is
apparent in the urban landscape: the marshy valley of the Białka river, which flows through
1

Biblioteka im. H. Łopacińskiego, Rkps 1737, nr 1.
Ordynacja Zamoyska (estate in tail) - one of the first ordinations of ancestral or aristocratic landownership in
the Polish Republic, governing its own statutes, inherited and indivisible, founded in 1589 by Jan Sariusz
Zamoyski, and abolished after World War II as a result of the state of agrarian reform. It saw the peak period of
development, in the mid-19th century. The area had 373,723 hectares, was inhabited by 107,764 people and
covered 9 cities: Goraj, Janów, Józefów, Kraśnik, Krzeszów, Szczebrzeszyn, Tarnogród, Tomaszów and
Turobin. Its capital was Zamość with its own high school (Akademia Zamoyska) and 291 villages, 116 farms, 41
mills, eight breweries, seven distilleries, an oil mill, mangling room, nail works, sawmills, brickworks and lime
kilns. It yielded approximately 1.4 min in profit, per year in gold. It constituted one of the largest private fortunes
in Europe.
2

1

Biała village and Janów, are joined with the hills of upland fault, which is also the foot of a
natural well-head called Stoki.
In Christian Poland, the founding myths of many cities and towns are narratives of
miraculous events, revelations, or using Eliade’s language: hierophanies. Sometimes these
only survived as orally transmitted stories, but usually they were sooner or later transcribed
and/or visually painted by local artists. If apparitions were recognized by the Catholic Church,
these places gained the status of official or popular shrines and became the objects of
numerous pilgrimages. The cases of miraculous healings were repeated here for many
generations and the practice of rituals, which were under the custody of the institutional
church and held by parishes and monasteries, are often, kept alive to the present day. Most of
the heroes, were common people. Peasants or craftsmen,
were mostly witnesses of the apparitions, so they were
common heroes and the Saints and the Holy Virgin were
supernatural characters. It was similar in the southern
Lublin Region, although this territory has its own local
specificity: most of it is made up of woodland, and it is
crossed diagonally from north to south by the Roztocze
hills belt which is an area void of water. The most
important revelations in this area, which occurred in
Radecznica, Krasnobród, Górecko Kościelne and Janów
1. The apparitions of the Holy Virgin
and the sacred water springs determine
the character of the town and
municipality of Janów. Mother of God
from Janów is the patroness of the
town. The photo shows the letter “M”
made from twigs on the shrine of Saint
Jan Nepomucen. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

Lubelski, are associated with water wells.
The Janów Revelation most probably took place in
1640. A cooper called Wojciech Boski saw the Holy
Virgin, going from the direction of Ruda village towards
the parish church for matins (early morning/evening
prayer) in Biała. The message that he allegedly received

from the Holy Virgin read: "God’s will is to celebrate his glory in memory of me at this
place.”3 This is related to another revelation, which Przegaliński cited in his book (1927),
when he mentioned a chronicle from the Dominican monastery, which doesn’t exist anymore.
According to Przegaliński, the revelation took place in 1639 and was witnessed by fishermen,
fishing in a pond one night: “[the pond], called the Black, is located between two wooded
hills, and they saw an unusual light in the forest on the southern hill, and saw the image of the
Virgin Mary surrounded by brightness on the pine tree. She was standing on the edge of the
hill at the place where the spring has its source. This miraculous event was reported to
3

Liber Miraculorum Huius Loci: chronicles from the Janów Lubelski parish, anon

2

Zamość, where the Princess Catherine of Ostrog [Zamoyska] resided. Princess Catherine,
being very pious, came to the place and ordered a church to be built at the site. The church
still stands and was given into the care of the Dominicans. They moved to the area from Lvov.
A monastery was built for them near the church. The lady said to build a shrine above the
spring, which flows from this wonderful town. The source was cased in and the well built.
The faithful take healing water from there even today.”
I would like to devote more attention to the specificity of Janów Lubelski and its
surrounding area (which makes up the municipality of Janów administratively today) as a
sacred space (determined by the water springs), later in the text. It would be pertinent to first
discuss the whole sacral map of the municipality, as it is quite diverse, and seems to be
especially rich in objects and hierophantic places.
I want to discuss the issues, character, ways of manifesting the sacrum (hierophany),
its meaning and perception very briefly. I will stop for a moment on the fundamental works of
Otto, Eliade and Caillois, not going deeply if possible, into the area of more recent reflections
on the subject, such as the works of numerous authors, especially phenomenologists of
religion and anthropologists. This modest article, which is the first commentary on the
recently undertaken field research, has no place for reflection. It is enough that it encourages
discussion and the continuation of research.
Rudolf Otto builts his classic discourse, analyzing the various forms of religious
experience, around the concept of the numinosum (1968, p. 34 et seq), as "a thing in itself."
Reaching it is rationally impossible, but one is convinced of its existence by sensus numinis.
In other words one feels its presence. It’s a feeling of power that fills a person with dread and
horror (tremens). It also attracts and enslaves (fascinans). Inconclusive as it is, it depends on
the extreme emotions that go beyond the simple order of the sacrum and the profanum.
Numinosum is a typically religious category and what is worth noting; non-moral. Otto sees
the sacrum as the religious sense of a person who is looking for communication with the
numinosum. Eliade (1996) assumes that the sacrum is religion moved into the sphere of
feelings or psychology. This perspective means that the ordinary human experience becomes
the center of attention and makes both authors the founding fathers of modern anthropology.
Caillois joins them and explicates the division of the sacred and the profane
introducing the categories ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ which "in the world of sacrum play the same
role as the concepts of good and evil in the world of the profane. Well, a sacred world is
opposed to the profane world, among others as the world of energy - the world of substances.
From one side power, from the other side things" (1995, p. 36).

3

Therefore, I decided to give my research an anthropological tone. In ethnographic
terms, the cultural landscape of the Polish countryside is strictly descriptive and has a rich
literature. However, it is still missing images of a variable and dynamic reality, which create a
collection of subjective image experience and an individual map of the community. As a
researcher I have created this as my personal map. Thus, I paid more attention to the places
described by my interlocutors, but I can also say, that during my personal adventure as Janów
researcher, a wanderer and a pilgrim, I simultaneously experienced "viewing of the image and
looking at the image," something that Gadamer called the Anbild (Anblick des Bildes)
(Gadamer, 1993, p. 23).
Hierophanies of Janów municipality
Field research carried out by Zenon Baranowski in Janów in 2006, suggests that the
municipality has 246 small sacred objects (crosses, shrines and figures), of which there are 67
in Janów and 45 in Biała. The Janów municipality consists of the following villages: Biała,
Borownica, Kiszki, Kopce, Łążek Garncarski, Łążek Ordynacki, Momoty Dolne, Momoty
Górne, Pikule, Podlaski, Ruda, Jonaki, Szewce, Szklarnia, Ujście and Zofianka Górna. The
total area is over 178 km sq and is inhabited by 16,000 people. A detailed record of sacred
objects, made by Baranowski, is as follows:
· wooden shrines: 24 house shaped, 23
cabinet shaped, 5 box shaped, 1 recessed, 14
log recessed
· stone shrines: 20 house shaped (including
those large enough to enter), 10 metal
cabinets, 19 metal bars
· crosses: 66 wooden, 1 iron, 9 cement, 42
metal
· figures:- 11
· other: sculpture in the tree branches
These objects are, of course, officially
sacred as they are hallowed by the priest, and

2. Capacity shrine at the end of the village

always associated with religiousness, though not Zofianka Górna. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj
necessarily in the strict theological sense. They do,

however, express the faith of the Catholic Church in its individual or social form. For
simplicity’s sake I will call them positive hierophanies, as they refer to the order founded by
4

Catholicism. This order is a base for the local community since the dawn of the city, and
earlier, in connection with the existence of the Biała parish, since the early 14th century.
However, the shrines have never been associated with the official liturgical forms. It must be
remembered that until the Second Vatican Council it was not possible to celebrate mass
outside the temple.
On the other hand, there are places (that have not yet been recorded), which are an
example of negative hierophanies and cratophanies, associated with “fear of the dead, ghosts,
of all this that is defiled” (Eliade, 1966, p. 22). These include graves, cemeteries and haunted
places. In Janów these are: a cemetery in Bialska street, a Jewish cemetery, a Russian
orthodox cemetery in Misztalec and a war grave of a soviet soldier from the Second World
War in Przyborowie.

3. Trees by the springs in Stoki – Janów Lubelski. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

Revelations of holiness and power, and related places and objects, are not always
univalent. These places are usually distinguished in the cultural landscape and were
hierophanic ‘active’ before Christianization or associated with primary sacrality such as the
village of Stoki, which I will write about. Moreover a shrine which depicts borderlands, even
when associated with positive hierophany, may attract the revelation of negative forces in the
shape of a devil f.e. One must remember that the distinctions made by Caillois (1995)
between the concepts of 'clean' and 'unclean' are to a great extent, interchangeable and
ambiguous. If one thing, by definition, has a consistent nature, depending on the
circumstances in which it manifests itself, it can cause good or evil. It is not good or evil by
5

nature, but takes on a meaning by a focus that is attributed to it. Therefore, we cannot expect
that the terms 'clean' or ‘unclean' are concerned solely and invariably with some creature,
thing or condition.
The genesis of the village shrines is medieval. On the one hand it is connected with the
tradition of stone crosses of penance (areas influenced by the Czech Republic, Lower Silesia).
On the other, the so-called lanterns of the dead (usually a column with an aedicule), in the
cemeteries. It is worth mentioning that these used to be located in the center of the village, by
the temple. They were the only source of light at night, serving both the living and the souls
of deceased ancestors. Only the stone shrines have survived to the present day. The oldest are
dated from the 17th century. There is one such object in the county of Janów, the pillar shrine
of St. Martin from 1653, in the village Branewka. A wooden shrine in Biała was the oldest
shrine in the Janów municipality. It still existed in the 1960s. Ancient shrines which still exist
include St. John Nepomucen from Janów and St. Thecla and St. Vincent Ferrarius (Janów and
Kopce). They were all founded in the second half of the 18th century. At the beginning they
were erected by monasteries (Dominicans from Janów) and belonged to the nobles and the
bourgeoisie. Since the late 18th century and especially in the 19th century, they became
‘peasant’ shrines.’ At first belonging to a district then to the individual. This happened earlier
on Zamoyski estate than in many other Polish regions. This was due to the introduction of rent
for peasants and later, of course, enfranchisement.
Shrine locations:
- by holding (individual center)
· in the middle of the village (social center)
· on the edge of the road (village border)
- by the water, on the crossroads, on the border of the forest
· in the field (sometimes the residue of a belk dispute)
· in places of special events (e.g. sudden death)
Statues, crosses and shrines where founded in areas which were already regarded as
special, and thus pre-selected. These were places where the sacred revealed its clean or
unclean power. In the first case sacred places were created to use the positive power that
remained following revelations. For example; a healing spring, cases of healing itself, places
allegedly additionally indicated by the Holy Virgin (such as the church in Janów) or by St.
Anthony who rested at the Kruczek forest spring on the way to the main place of his
revelations at Roztocze on Radecznica hill. Thus the power was retained by means of human
piety and prayers, making it an object of worship for the benefit of many of the faithful. Such
places sanctioned the sacral nature of the community and were its cornerstone. In the second
6

case it was done to reverse an ‘evil power pole,’ as in the case of a forest tree under which the
Russian Tsar's Cossack raped and murdered a young girl. This reversal was accomplished by a
Christianization of the place. A shrine devoted to the Virgin Mary was erected on the spot. It
also has the tradition of a votive gesture. Even today passersby have a social obligation to put
three pine tree branches under the tree and say a prayer for the soul of the tragically deceased.
The site is also symbolic for the local community. The symbolism comes from the identity of
the murderer, placed in a political and historical context, (the year 1861: Russia's growing
repression of the Poles). The individual evil took on the characteristics of social evil,
threatening the entire local community and broader national community. The shrine is a
cultural form which I will call an ‘adapter’ or ‘connector,’ which provides a continuous flow
of charity. In the case of evil power it closes the exit.

4-5. The shrine on the
‘Cossack pine,’ Janów,
the forest road to
Kruczek. Left: three
votive
pine twigs, X 2010.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

Traditional folk culture understands space in a different way: it is discontinuous and
there is no compulsion to objectify it. It is measured by the body (e.g. an hour away, not 5
km) and depends on various factors, including the emotional state. It is subjective and
variable, making the road to it shorter or longer. All border places marking points of
discontinuity, including shrines and crosses, played an important role in the mental map of
space, which outlined the boundaries separating the order inside orbis interior from the
external unknown chaos.

7

The symbolism of the cross is obvious, but it may
be good to mention its literal meaning at this
point. It literally means the middle. The center
point of an intersection between the vertical
horizontal dimension: visible with the invisible,
human with the divine and finally death and
resurrection. One could call it the cosmic tree of
life. The most typical form taken by crosses in
Janów county is the form of an openwork cross
with a rooster. This is a symbol of life, sometimes
with a crescent moon (a sign that one is on the
frontier lands with the Eastern Orthodox Church).
The openwork cross is called krzemieński because
of the village name; Krzemień. This is where John
6. Openwork cross with a typical rooster on the
top. Near Zofianka Górna village.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

Pariś (1871-1950), the blacksmith master, lived.
Pariś forged some 47 crosses (Baranowski, 2007,
p. 76).
It seems that the cross has taken the place

of the earlier sacred stones and trees, which were related to the original sacredness. Their
coexistence with natural reality, reality of
another kind, was sacred in a more literal sense.
The combination of these two ways of
recognizing the importance of holy places crosses in rocks in Janów municipality and
shrines inside trees - was typical to the
traditional culture for a long time. According to
data recorded in Szklarnia village, there were a
lot of trees with shrines in the Janów woods
(presumably some of them were sacrificial).
They were cut down by the forestry commission
in the early 1970s and used to build a church in
Momoty Górne at behest of priest Pińciurek and
some of the villagers. A few of the trees
remained. One of them is a shrine by the 7. The sacrifice cross in Janów Woods.
Kiszczański roadside in the forest.

Photo: K. Butryn

8

8-9. The shrine at Kiszczański Road in Janów woods. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

9

The only shrine devoted to the Holy Virgin, that was preserved, is inside an old tree in
Jonaki, south of Janów on the road to Rzeszow. This unusual lime tree can be seen from afar
(even if one goes by car) because of its extremely thick trunk and oddly branched crown. It is
not surprising that the entire shrine is in the trunk of the living tree. One can certainly say that
it is sacred, if not holy.

10-12. The shrine inside the lime tree – Jonaki. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

10

Other interesting examples of the cultural landscape are places (usually of an older
origin), where the trees are boundaries of the sacred area and the shrine is the center of it. A
shrine with the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, located in Janów by the Białka river, is a very
good example of this. The sacred architecture of the whole locus sacer consists of

an apse shaped house, open on one side, and railed in from the outside rough.
In the middle of the shrine, painted in white with a baroque expression, is an
almost dancing wooden statue of the martyr. Behind her there is a halo of five
stars that rise up to heaven. It is symbolized by flowers. The game played by
the color contrasts, stopped in a gesture of delight (reminiscent of a Chassidic
gesture) gives a strong feeling of supernatural presence, which should after all
be the proper place for the saint

four maple-trees surrounding the house, planted close together in the rectangle
form a sort of nave - the natural vault of different shades of green, then yellow
in autumne. Also in winter the branches intergrow giving the illusion of closing
up space. When viewed from the sides the trunk of the tree seems to be jointed
to the planks of the shrine into one piece (the photo on the next page)

the hawthorn bush behind the house with dark red fruits (a delicacy of many
animals), as well as honey-yielding remedial white flowers; used in traditional
medicine

11

13-16. The shrine of St John of Nepomuk in Janów Lubelski; previous page: general view of locus
sacer, and hawthorn bush, In the middle: boards of the shrine and one of the four clones surrounding the
house; Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

So, despite the fact that it is the 21st century and there are many civilizational
changes associated with the inevitable passage of time, we can still be witness to
manifestations of the supernatural, associated with primary sacredness and consciously
formed elements of the natural landscape. These are particularly trees, shrubs, flowers, water
sources. Sometimes, however, they are only remnants of former places of worship, like the
cross between two pine trees in Janów woods in Szklarnia. (photo next page)
12

17. In Janów woods . Photo: K. Butryn

The shape of the holy places, especially shrines, was doubtless influenced by the
echoes of the primary sacrality in which holiness reveals through nature and by the christian
iconography which notably formed, even subconsciously, the imagination of the faithfuls, the
iconography which they have learned for generations by participating in the official liturgy of
the church, in their own parish, but also during the pilgrimage to the regional sanctuaries.
Reading the Bible and especially the Old Testament played a great role. The theme of hortus
conclusus, or the closed garden, frequent especially in paintings of the Holy Virgin, seems to
be in many cases the archetype of the assumptions of spatial and artistic visions presented in
the shrines. This originates from the image of the bride as the garden from the Songs of the
King Salomon. An example of this can be a miniature garden with the shrine of a pensive
looking Christ located at the crossroads near Porytowe Hill.

13

20. A shrine of glass in the center of Janów Lubelski.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

18-19. Pensive Christ with the statue of the Virgin Mary in hortus conclusus, Porytowe Hill.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

Flowers, with their intense colors, are still present in shrines. They play a symbolic
role, although nowadays they are often artificial. In urban space, stricty built newer shrines
are more monochromatic and miniaturized. One of the more interesting forms, taken by these
14

new shrines, is a glass box (the founders and designers often use aquariums), whose function
is not only practical (easy to clean, well-protected interior), but also religious. It appeals to a
slightly different, bourgeois type of imagination, and thus the faith is more reflective. The
glass shrines are a sort of screen that displays a moving picture. From the nearest street
landscape one can see buildings, cars and pedestrian traffic, advertisements: in short; life. The
world in which one exists is the same as before the moment when one approached the shrine,
only a little bit faded and fuzzy. This is its earthly vale. The glass represents a thin and
invisible boundary between a mirage of the world's vanities, and the spiritual life from the
Christian perspective. It hints at the prospect of ultimate salvation, as witnessed by the statue
of Our Lady of Fatima positioned inside - on the o t h e r side as it were.
We live on the borderline. It seems that modern times are particularly marked with
boundaries. The old world abute to the new world, which is more rational and offers a new
imagination, formed by the development of new technologies. However, even today
inhabitants of Janów Lubelski, a town once known for its miraculous healings, still adheres to
tradition. The villagers still believe in miracles and the old, magical ways of staving off evil.
Barely a kilometer from the glass shrine there is another, older shrine. It is surrounded by
intense blue fabric that has been ripped off a skirt or dress. The fabric is tied in many knots.
However, it is difficult understand the intentions of the author of the knots, without knowing
him/her, and "in all of the magic-religious rites the most important is the direction of the
transmitted power, which stands behind every 'binder’ and all activities involving 'binding'.
This direction can be positive or negative" (Eliade, 1998, s.131).
Undoubtedly, present times that are
full

of

traditional

boundaries,
meaning

have
and

changed
function

the
of

a

border/boundary. Some shrines are no longer
worshipped but they still exist as monuments
of culture or history. A brick-house shaped
shrine stands in Janów in a place where the

21. Magic of the knots – Janów Lubelski.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

22. Janów Lubelski - near the Roadside of Biłgoraj. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

15

road to Biłgoraj begins. An old wooden cross stands beside it. Once upon a time this place
was important. The route to Biłgoraj played an important role in communication. According
to legend, one of the Russian Tsar’s engineers made it his aim to pave the way to Biłgoraj in a
perfectly straight line, but the area between the cities was almost entirely covered by the
thickest forest and wetland. The engineer almost succeeded, except in one place were the road
turns a few meters. People say that the ambitious engineer was so distressed by this that he
committed suicide. Today the road is overgrown. It does not differ much from other forest
roads. It is impassable in places. At the beginning of it, by the cross, some children hanged a
bicycle tire on a tree. They throw cones, pebbles and sticks through it. Throwing things
through a wheel is one of the oldest known agonic games (Caillois, 1997). Games are
children's rituals and ceremonies. They are always held in a special place that is separate from
the space of everyday life and often performed with a ‘sacred’ seriousness (Huizinga, 1985, p.
34 et seq).

Another example of the way that the meaning of holy places has changed, or rather has
been modernized, is a shrine with a statue of St. Valentine the Bishop, located in Janów, near
the local cemetery. The bishop was once worshiped as the patron of severe diseases, epilepsy
and mental illness. Today St. Valentine is widely known as the patron of lovers and in Janow
his figure has two faces: the original face and the face of John Paul II, whose attitude to
illness,

fortitude,

miraculous

humility,

deliverance,

his

(escape

from death after he was shot by a
Turkish sniper), and finally return to
health and full strength, meant that
the Polish Pope is surrounded by an
aura of holiness. People sing songs
about him at shrines and during
pilgrimages at the May celebrations
devoted to the Holy Virgin. The
Pope loved Christ, and he also loved
life. He would always find a
moment to meet with young people,
even when he was very tired. It is
understandable that he is regarded

23. Saint Valentine of two faces – Janów.
Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj.

16

as the Valentine of our time. It also shows how much shrines still remain in the domain of
grassroots initiatives. The Church, as an institution, has its own procedures dictated by its
canon law and theology. It works in a different time perspective, set by 2,000 years of history.
Some processes (e.g. canonization) run slowly. As the faithful do not have so much time and
individual life is short, they try to have regular contact with the sacred. They beat their private
paths, shortcuts. "Santo subito!" People, especially those living in a traditional way, try to live
‘in the womb of sanctity,’ or as close as possible to it, because holiness is power.

If sacrificial foundations relate to specific matters, sooner or later their ‘mission’ will
come to an end with the fulfillment of a request or with the death of the founder. An ordinary
cross in Ulanowska Street in Janów does not give an impression of the object of worship,
although it is more or less tidy. It turns out that it is being looked after by the person living the
closest to it. Here is his report:
“Pijanowski the miller put it here, he was a bigwig but
they [communists] took the mill away from him [after
the war under the nationalization] and then he put the
cross up to get the mill back. But he didn’t erect it on
his own property, though he had such a large plot of
land, but here [on the opposite side of the street, on no
man's land]. I moved it [one meter to the left] to
straighten the entrance to the garage. I put the beam
into the foundation [...]. I'm afraid that it may fall on
someone’s head, and its too high to make something
with it, I won’t call the fire brigade. I am already well
in years.... but I know what I’ll do, I’ll put up a metal
cross, nice and solid. The cross belongs to everybody.
Now, people are of different faiths, but the cross is for
all faiths. It isn’t anyone’s property and they gave him
that mill back, because later they were giving back a
little.”

24. Miller’s cross in Ulanowska Street in
Janów. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

The miller is no longer alive. He left the cross
in thanks to the fulfillment of his request and as a testimony of the effectiveness of that sacred
power.

17

Stoki
At the end of this paper I wanted to give some attention to places, which I have
already written about. Places which determine the sacral character of Janów. They are the
water springs. The spring connected with the main revelations runs in the basement of the
Chapel of Appearance near the church. Numerous miraculous healings, recorded in a
chronicle from 1661, are connected with this place as is the miraculous image of ‘Our
Gracious Lady of the Rosary’ (probably from the 16th century, a gift from Jan Zamoyski),
commonly called the Mother of God from Janów. The sanctuary in Janów was occupied by
the Dominicans until 1864, when the Russian Tsar’s reversing of the monastery took place.
The cult of the Holy Virgin persisted however, and Janów is still a pilgrimage destination.
This topic has its own literature and written sources, and it is worth giving special attention to
it. Pilgrims travel to the Chapel of St Anthony, situated in a forest. They leave numerous
requests in the displayed notebooks in the form of inscriptions. The popularity and less formal
nature of the place, as well as its distance from the town, evoke another kind of piety. It is a
place for private and unhindered worship, which promotes contemplation. People formulate
requests in a sincere and direct way, without theologically marked formulas, although both
fascinans and tremendum are more deeply felt here. I'm going to deal with this place in more
detail in another article but here I wanted to summarize the comments made above with one
inscription from the notebook of requests to St. Anthony:

25. "Watch over my family, because I am getting weaker. Father and husband." From the
notebook of requests to St. Anthony in the chapel in Kruczek. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

.
A particularly interesting place for the anthropologist is Stoki, which lies less than 1 km
north from the church and sanctuary of Janów. It is a big wellhead and plays an important role
in the economic life of Janow and its inhabitants. The nearby brewery draws water from it and
not so long ago women would came here to do their laundry. People used to wash here and
sometimes took water home to wash with and for ceremonial and magic purposes: 4
4

"On Good Friday people had a wash at home with water that was drawn before sunrise, or had a bath in the
flowing water. (...) The water was drawn in silence to protect them from skin and eye diseases" [red].

18

“[…] Before the war the laundresses were washing there and on Good Friday they weren’t. They said that
Jesus washed his feet out there, and they take five pebbles to put them into the water. In Stoki people used
to wash themselves and bring water home in jugs, because at home someone wanted to wash.”
- Did they put those pebbles into the jug?
- “Into the jug, five, because the Lord Jesus had five wounds and they washed their eyes to make them
healthy.”

Bartmiński, 1999, p. 177; "The throwing of various objects [e.g. pebbles] into the water in a vessel was used in
magical practices to recognize spells and ward off diseases" ibid, p. 181.

19

26-29. Stoki in Janów Lubelski. Top left: Passion shrine made of stone, Top right: close-up of spring
Bottom: the springs gush by the foot of a slope. Photo:

R. Mazur-Hanaj

Today Stoki looks slightly different than it did several years ago. The benches for washing
were removed, a statue of Christ stands on a high pedestal and dominates the water bed. At
20

the entrance to Stoki there is a cave with a wooden bas-relief, depicting the scene of the
removal of Christ from the cross (blood and water flowed from the wound in his side, in Cana
of Galilee Jesus turned water into wine, and wine is his blood). There are springs which gush
with varied strength in two places at the foot of the slope. Sometimes water flows directly
from the ground, or from rocks or from under the roots of trees, and creates a small
picturesque pool. Stones of various sizes shimmer in the crystal water, particles of sand run
rapidly in the fast current and intensely green grass waves. "Clean water, particularly near the
wood and stone, marks the center of the space. It is a sign of the place’s sacredness" (red.
Bartmiński, 1999, p. 187).
This unusual place is related to the mystery of life, death and with regards to
Christianity; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Moreover, according to folk tradition, its
primary sacredness lies in the potentiality of connecting the water with death and rebirth.
Living water, which flows inside the mountain, is in opposition with the stone, the same as
life with death (red. Bartmiński, 1999, p. 237). The water washes away sin. Ritual washing
returns one to the moment beyond the limits of time (in illo tempore), of the world. It leads to
the birth of a “new man” (Eliade, 1998, p. 177 et seq). The element of water - the prima
materia - which God, the Father, created the world with, gushes from the womb of the earth
and symbolizes the Mother of God, who took Christ from the water of life (Lurker, 1989, p.
283-4).
Let’s remember, however, that the numinous, as a thing ‘in itself,’ is an non-moral
potentiality. When manifested as the sacred (at the moment of entry into a relationship with
the disposition), the religious sense of man splits into ambivalent forces, into the ‘clean’ and
‘unclean.’ In particular, it seems to relate to aquatic hierophanies, because water disintegrates
and destroys the form. It is no wonder that one could meet the devil at Stoki:
“Even my father told me: my father's parents were rich and supposedly everyone wanted them to attend
their wedding [...], so they were walking late at night near a brewery here [at Stoki] […]. They were
singing, suddenly someone came and said: “Why are you going and singing like cattle?” Then this
person said: “Maybe you are blind […] maybe you are dark? I’ll light you the way,” and he gave them a
candle. And they made it home with that candle, and it was a horse's hoof.”

During my visit to Stoki, when I had seen the wellhead, from some innate curiosity I
directed my steps to the top of the slope. The path that leads there starts at the back of the
stone shrine of Calvary, and ends after 10m by a part concrete and patched wall. Behind the
wall is the neglected rear of the brewery. It is an amorphous space, like it has not been used
for a long time. The warehouse has open, rusty doors. The rear wall of the magazine, made of
white brick, leads to Stoki. At first glance, the area along the wall, behind which the slope
21

drops steeply towards the water springs, gives the impression of a well hidden inlet, but soon
it turns out that it is something more. The place is marked with huge graffiti and the wellknown in Poland acronym, a vulgar phrase: “HWDP” (bugger the police) or “scoffy” (glory
to you brave policemen). The entire white wall is covered with various types of inscriptions,
usually dates, initials, names or nicknames. The
wall with inscriptions begins and ends with the
image of the phallus. This is a meeting place for
teenagers. They drink beer here, or wine, and talk
freely, or simply spend some time together without
the presence of adults. This is practically
impossible at home, at school, in the culture center
30. Beer, the stupefying drink..

or in the closed urban space that is their town. The

Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

following inscriptions testify to this: "Mary was at
wag here,” “we got fucked up”, “Caroline=*”
People enter adulthood between the ages of 14-18. This is the time between childhood
and adult life. In traditional communities marriage was the closing of this stage. In some
measure the same is true today, but nowadays an increasingly important role is played by
other turning points, e.g. setting up a business. The threshold of adulthood was once outlined
and sharp. Today it is dislocated in time.
Throughout one’s whole life this period is
specifically characterized by liminality, a period of
initiation, which was the subject of rituality in
traditional
communalities.

communities
According

with
to

Turner,

strong
who

followed in van Gennep’s footsteps, one can
venture an opinion that Stoki is also a place of
31. A nickname of an “animalistic soul”: “Wild

temporary or situational communitas. Communitas Snout” Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj
is a kind of social anti-structure that forms in the

liminal period, in the stage of transition or suspension, when a change of status or social
position takes place. It is difficult to find a phrase that is more terse and questions the social
order more than HWDP. The main point of reference, for the participant of a communitas, is a
group. In this case, the group refers to people of the same age. The boundaries of this world
are delimited by the pictogram of a phallus. As Jung writes (1993, p. 140), the group
experience is made at a lower level of consciousness than the level of individual experience,
some sort of ‘animalistic soul’ is sometimes created. Reducing emotions into the realm of sex
22

is antisocial but fits well into this anti-structure. Human beings always had a tendency to form
groups, which enabled the collective experience of a transformation. This often took the form
of a daze (Jung, 1993, p. 141).
According to the inscriptions on the wall, and my interviews, the hill in Stoki is quite
an egalitarian place (brotherhood is one of the determinants of communitas), visited by very
different young people, including football fans, punks and rebels. It also, however, has

32. Christian inscriptions on the wall about love and “swim against the tide”. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

ordinary, non distinguishable representatives and future intellectuals. On the wall one can read
an inscription from the local high school, or the words "Kult is the best.” 5 One section of the
wall is also reserved for a Christian message, referring to a basic Christian imperative – love which is so important for teenagers and one of the basic symbols for today’s Christianoriented youth. It contains a pictogram of a fish with a cross and the slogan, which at this
point is particularly resonant: “Swim against the tide.”
Significantly for inscriptions that talk about feelings and confessions of love, the trees
growing near the wall are reserved for the names of loved ones, which are carved with a knife.
The most obvious formula, which testifies one’s presence at a specific location is simple, "I
5

“Kult” is the name of a very interesting Polish musical group, performing songs which border between
alternative rock and the pop scene. Its charismatic leader Kazik Staszewski, the son of an emigrant bard, writes
smart critical articles on various manifestations of Polish reality.

23

was here." This can be read on the wall, while trees: ‘living boards,’ remain the most
appropriate place for the word love, expressing a sense of human presence on earth.
To

33. Declarations of love are curved on the trees, not on the wall. Photo: R. Mazur-Hanaj

recapitulate, one can say that Stoki has its own mana. The sacral landscape of the Janów
municipality is filled with many hierophanic places. Its historical variability is dynamic and
interesting and Stoki is among the most important and central places, because of its apparent
connection with primary sacrality and its popular, informal and not fully institutionalized
character. One can find this ambivalence of the sacrum, which Caillois gave so much attention
to. “Any power of embodying the sacred tends to split up: its original ambiguity divides into
antagonistic and complementary elements, for which a person feels appropriately; esteem and
repugnance, desire and fear” (Caillois, 1995, p. 39). Stoki is a place that is both clean and
unclean. It is place of holiness and slur, which brakes open the anti-structural taboos. Even
though it is itself broken, according to important contemporary processes of cultural and
social transformation, the factor of sacral sensibility still plays an important role here.

The author thanks Krzysztof and Marta Butryn for cooperation.

Bibliography:
24

Baranowski Łukasz Zenon, 2007, Figury, krzyże i kapliczki przydrożne w powiecie janowskim
[in] „Janowskie korzenie” nr 5
[red.] Bartmiński Jerzy, 1999, Słownik streotypów i symboli ludowych, tom I, Lublin
Caillois Roger, 1995, Człowiek i sacrum, Warsaw
Caillois Roger, 1997, Gry i ludzie, Warsaw
Eliade Mircea, 1966, Traktat o historii religii, Warsaw
Eliade Mircea, 1996, Sacrum i profanum: o istocie religijności, Warsaw
Eliade Mircea, 1998, Obrazy i symbole, Warsaw
Gadamer Hans Georg, 1993, Aktualność piękna, Warsaw
van Gennep Arnold, 2006, Obrzędy przejścia, Warsaw
Huizinga Johan, 1985, Homo ludens, Warsaw
Jung Carl Gustav, 1993, Archetypy i symbole, Warsaw
Lurker Manfred, 1989, Słownik obrazów i symboli biblijnych, Poznań
Łukasiewicz Józef, 2002, Drogowskazy wiary: kapliczki i krzyże Ziemi Janowskiej,
Sandomierz
Łukasiewicz Józef, 2010, Janowskie legendy [in] „Janowskie korzenie” nr 15
Orzeł Stefan, 2000, Dominikanie w Janowie Lubelskim w latach 1660-1864 [w] red.
Baranowski Zenon, Nazarewicz Barbara, Łukasiewicz Józef, Janów Lubelski 1640-2000,
Janów Lubelski
Otto Rudolf, 1968, Świętość, Warsaw
Rożek Helena, 2000, Powstanie Janowa Lubelskiego i jego rozwój w okresie staropolskim
[in] red. Baranowski Zenon, Nazarewicz Barbara, Łukasiewicz Józef, Janów Lubelski 16402000, Janów Lubelski
Turner Victor, 2005, Gry społeczne, pola i metafory, Cracow
Turner Victor, 2010, Proces rytualny, Warsaw

25

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.