Dear Pilgrim!
Welcome to the LORD’S ARK!
The Church of Our Lady the Queen of Poland in Kraków- Bieńczyce was built between 1967 and 1977 following the design of Wojciech Pietrzyk, PhD, Eng. of Architecture and under his supervision. The temple was being constructed in extremely unfavourable conditions in a socialist city “without God” where no space for churches was allowed. It was built by hand, alike medieval temples, using shovels, picks, barrows and peasant wagons. It was the intention of the investor (parish priest Józef Gorzelany) and the architect for the building to resemble and make a reference to the biblical Noah’s Ark both in the shape and thanks to the accumulation of elements of symbolic meaning. Named the Lord’s Ark, it constitutes the symbol of victory of Nowa Huta (New Steel Mill) community over the “deluge” of the totalitarian regime of the Polish People’s Republic and at the same time the symbol of salvage and rescue from the flood of the unfaithful and atheisation promoted by policies. The church was consecrated by cardinal Karol Wojtyła on 15th May 1977 and given the invocation of Our Lady the Queen of Poland.

The Mogiła Cross (Krzyż Mogilski) and the Nowa Huta Cross (Krzyż Nowohucki), which was bravely claimed by the local people in 1960, are both part of Nowa Huta’s history. A 68-meter-tall (anchored 14 meters below the ground level) steel Cross – the Mast towers above the boat-church. It constitutes the main construction element of the temple. It supports its slanting side walls and the steel structure of the roof. It was assembled in mid-November, 1976. The cross is capped with a steel gilded crown which makes reference to the Marian nature of the temple.

Four reinforced concrete walls of the Lord’s Ark are an exceptional building solution. Being 30 meters tall, they are 30 cm thick. Their slenderness ration is 1:100, almost like in the case of a paper sheet. All walls are slanting and according to the architectonic design represent four sails. Under the Cross – Mast stretches the most “risky” southern “hanging” wall. Its one end is supported on the foundation and the other on the mast. It resembles a mainsail cut at the bottom in its shape. External elevation of the walls is made of pebble stones from Polish rivers while inside the walls are covered with rough texture gray plaster.

The most characteristic element of the Lord’s Ark is the roof. It is in the shape of a broad boat with tall boards tiled with well-preserved overlaying larch shingle. The roof of the Boat was shaped using planks, lined with corrugated sheet inside, insulated with Styrofoam and poured with concrete. In 1975 the roof was covered with ruberoid – a Swiss kind of roofing paper. The roof basis is deep and protected against snow with a heating system and a wide-section draining system. The Lord’s Ark as a building, alike the Noah’s Ark which survived the flood, is a symbol of Nowa Huta’s community victory over totalitarianism. It is the Church’s Ark which saved the residents of Nowa Huta from the flood of atheism. And the wood, the ship is made of, represents the cross of Jesus Christ.

There is a Cross – an Anchor suspended to the roof above the entresol, next to the field altar. A brown cross, a remainder of the damaged cross which was fought over in 1960 and which was replaced with a new one on 1st May 1972, is composed in the broad, dark arms of the anchor. The anchor represents a cross, the symbol of solid faith, trust when there is storm and oppression and Christian hope for salvation.

Left to the entrance to the Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima (The Cave) there is a huge, bronze-cast plate decorated with the portraits of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II which commemorates the construction and the builders of the Lord’s Ark. It was unveiled in 1981 and was created by a Krakow based sculptor Bogusław Langman.

Under the suspended, supported on the cross – mast, sail-like wall of the Lord’s Ark, over the Chapel of Reconciliation, in a triangle shaped space where the base is the “sandbank” the Ark settled on and which is represented by pebble stones, there is a Nowa Huta’s Golgotha. It is a stone figure of Pensive Christ surrounded by a crown of thorns made of black steel reinforcing bars and next to it, suspended on a metal structure, there is a collection of plastic plates with the names of 20 residents of Bieńczyce who died for the Motherland in the years 1939-1945.

On a long, reinforced concrete beam in front of the entrance to the church there are eight bells – gifts from the Dutch Catholics. The bells make a small peal and ring every full hour between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm. Electrically controlled, they can “play” tunes of 89 church songs for individual seasons of the liturgical year. They were cast in 1975 by the Dutch Royal Bell Foundry Petit & Fritsen from Aarle-Rixtel and hung in 1976. They were named after individuals who were most engaged in the construction of the church. They are: Karol Wojtyła, Józef Gorzelany, Bruno Gryksa, Lonny Glaser, Stanisław Biela, Wojciech Pietrzyk, Jan Norek, Antoni Pietraszak.

Right to the entrance to the “Cave”, “under the bells”, in the niches of the stone wall there are six, same size, reliefs etched in metal plates which illustrate the Way of the Cross and were made by Professor Kolbitsch from Linz. Further stations are in the niches of the stone wall in the Cave of Our Lady of Fatima. Professor Kolbitsch created the Way of the Cross in 1976 for the parish church in Nowa Huta and presented it to the parish through Cardinal Karol Wojtyła.

On the broad steps of the stairs of the Fatima Square there is a Monument “John Paul II – the Wind of Hope” by Italian artist Carlo Balljana. The monument is a gift of gratitude for John Paul II from the Italians to Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz. Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz intended it for the Lord’s Ark and consecrated it at its unveiling on 16th October 2009.

The church has one nave and an entresol of total surface 1300 square meters. It can house app. 6 thousand Christians at one time. It has seven entrances. The floor is slightly inclined towards the altar and is covered with raw tiles made of rare kind of green marble with white veins from the quarry at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is supposed to represent the waters of the flood the biblical Arch sailed on to the safe port. The ceiling is the bottom of the roof-boat made of larch shingle, divided into four planes. The gaps between them form a cross. Under the entresol there is a suspended ceiling made of wooden planks with lights. It was a conscious intention of the builders of the Lord’s Ark for the interior to be really modest.

The altar in the Lord’s Ark is a huge slab of noble, white marble with green veins cut according to the model prepared by architect Wojciech Pietrzyk in the Carrara quarry. Located in the central part of the temple which helps emphasis its natural beauty while its shape of a flatly arranged “reaching hand” is an invitation to the Lord’s Supper with the Sacrifice of the Cross being envisioned in the sacramental signs. The altar contains relics of Saint Stanislaus the Martyr. It was dedicated during the church’s consecration by cardinal Karol Wojtyła on 15th May 1977.

A bronze tabernacle in the shape of a sphere resembles the earth as seen from the space or the surface of the Moon. Uneven, rough surface glitters thanks to crystals which can be found in different minerals. Among them you can find a stone from the Moon which was a present to Karol Wojtyła from Pope Paul VI who earlier received it from the crew of the American spaceship Apollo 11. Cardinal Wojtyła presented the stone to the Lord’s Ark. The sculpture is by Bronisław Chromy. Steel circles which grid the tabernacle are the symbol of the rudder of the boat navigated by Jesus Christ who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.

On the left hand side in the nave, on the crossing beams which support the entresol hangs an almost 8-meter-tall sculpture of Jesus Christ by Bronisław Chromy from 1977 called “From Life to Life”, which is deemed to be one of the most outstanding pieces of sacral art by this artist. The Christ is looking at a piece of skies and a fiery cross created by the architectural division of the wooden roof, with the crown of thorns floating like a halo. The Christ, still chained to the Earth and human matters, to all what we bring with us when we come before the cross, already adored uses his body to leave them behind and take us to the Father’s House with these words: “I am the resurrection and the life; The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” J 11,25. The sculpture is made of bronze and in spite of the impression of lightness, because of huge overstrains, it was reinforces with a durable steel structure.

To the right of the altar, on a beam, extension of which becomes belfry outside the building, hanging on two steel wires there is a painting of Our Lady the Queen of Poland, a true copy of the painting from the Church of Bernardine Fathers in Zbaraż. The original can now be seen in Prałkowce near Przemyśl. It is a tempera painting on a linden board with very heavy (over 200 kg) steel frames. On the back they form two steel crowns with a sign: AVE MARIA at the bottom. Under the crowns there is a copper plate with riveted figures of angels flying from above carrying the Lord’s Clemency. At the bottom there are people with their hand raised asking for gifts from above which they are given trough Our Lady. The painting is supposed to remind us that, just like Zbaraż withstood the Cossack and Tatar tempest and Częstochowa did not drawn in the waves of the Swedish deluge, Nowa Huta did not drawn in the waves of raging atheism.

To the left in the nave, under the entresol, on eight boards there is a panoramic Way of the Cross by Kraków based artist Mariusz Lipiński painted in 1980-1983. The last hours of the life of Jesus Christ as described in the Evangel and shared in holy Christian Tradition are not taking place in Jerusalem but are shown against the background of Galician scenery, in the atmosphere of striking and omnipresent indifference of the society towards the dramatic events taking place. It was the artist’s intention to communicate that as a Christian nation we have suffered a lot in order to protect our national entity but this does not mean that in the social and individual dimension we are not guilty of negligence and religious indifference… The Way of the Cross by Lipiński makes a reference to the Renaissance Dutch masters such as Hieronim Bosch or Pieter Bruegel and constitutes a work of art of top artistic class.

The main nave of the church is dominated by a huge organ which has 46 voices and 3356 pipes with the biggest one being app. 6 meters tall. The organ consists of four independent sound systems distributed among three manuals (manual keyboard) and a so called pedal (keyboard played with feet). The organ was built by a German company Rudolf von Beckerath Orgelbau from Hamburg. It was dedicated on 25th November 1979 by cardinal Franciszek Macharski.

The design of the stained glass-work for the Ark was created by Jerzy Skąpski in 1970’s at the commission of the parish priest and the builder of the Lord’s Ark Rev. Józef Gorzelany and approved by architect Wojciech Pietrzyk. The investment was carried out by the 1995 – 2017 parish priest - Prelate Edward Baniak. The stained-glass work shows Biblical matters referring to the symbolic nature of the church. The stained glass-work was made by a Kraków workshop Testor, Maciej Szwagierczyk. It was dedicated by Warsaw Metropolitan Bishop, cardinal Kazimierz Nycz during a Fatima church service on 13.10.2016.

The Chapel can be found under the church and you can access it from the pavement in ul. Obrońców Krzyża Street or from the sacristy. It consists of the vestibule and the proper chapel. The interior refers to the tragic fate of the Polish people during WW II. In the vestibule you can find Polish Pietas by Antoni Rząsa. On the left in the chapel there is a wall of “sapphire” confessionals, on the right - a sandstone wall referring to the “Death Wall” in Auschwitz. By the wall there is a sculpture presenting St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe in an unnatural pose – “A Tormented Man” by Antoni Rząsa. On the table there is a procession gloat with a figure of Our Lady of Armour - a statue made of pieces of armour taken out of the bodies of soldiers who were wounded at Monte Cassino made in Sydney by Eugeniusz Godulski in 1973. The figure was dedicated by cardinal Karol Wojtyła during a holy mass on 8th September 1973. In the central place of the alter, to the right of the tabernacle and on the wall on the left hanging on a wooden beam there is a figure of Jesus Christ with his arms dramatically stretched in the arms of Mary Magdalene by Antoni Rząsa. In the southern part of the Chapel, just opposite the altar (to the left of the entrance) there is an intersecting white and red band of plaster elevation which symbolizes the inseparable connection between martyrdom and victory. Behind the wall you can find an 11-voice organ by Józef Buła from 1967. The Chapel was the first sacral part of the building to be made available to the Christians when the church was being built (December 1973). The official dedication took place on 12th April 1974.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, also called the Cave, can be found to the right of the main entrance to the church, “under the bells”. On the left in the Chapel, on a pillar which supports the sanctuary of the high altar, the foundation stone is exhibited – a gift from Pope Paul VI – part of the grave of St. Peter in Rome and a glass slab with the lines from the temple’s foundation act. On the right there is the Cave, separated by a metal grate with an altar and a figure of Our Lady of Fatima. The statue is located on the meeting point of diagonally adjoining walls against the background of gilded mandorla with beams. Crowned with papal crowns on 13th September 1992. Next to it on the wall there is a golden rose – a gift from local residents on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the crowning, on the table – reliquaries of the Fatima Children, St. Jacinta and St. Francisco and St. John Paul II. On the walls of the Cave as well as on the armrest of the kneeling chair next to the grate there are numerous votive offerings and plates expressing gratitude. A little bit further, on the left there is a tiny chapel with a figure of Our Lady of Fatima – the Queen of Families in a glazed cabinet suitable for peregrination.

You can find more information about the church and our parish in publications which can be bought from our souvenir shop next to the church near the field altar.

Our Lady the Queen of Poland Roman Catholic Parish
ul. Obrońców Krzyża 1, 31-831 Kraków - Bieńczyce, Poland
tel. (+48) 126440624, (+48) 126495225,
Parish bank account number:
37 1020 2906 0000 1202 0086 9321; e-mail: Ten adres pocztowy jest chroniony przed spamowaniem. Aby go zobaczyć, konieczne jest włączenie w przeglądarce obsługi JavaScript. 


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