To this day, starting with the 17th century, great numbers of pilgrims have been coming to Piekary Śląskie. Each year the pilgrims come to the miraculous painting of Our Lady of Piekary.
The Lady has for centuries been known as the Healer, the Refuge for the Despairing and the Healing for the Ill. Since 1983 thanks to Pope John Paul II she has also been known as the Mother of Justice and Social Love.
The pilgrim tradition started in 1676 when in the nearby city of Tarnowskie Góry a deathly plague broke out. The people of Tarnowskie Góry came to pray before the blessed picture of Our Lady of Piekary and the plague begun to subside. That miracle gave rise to the first “vowed pilgrimages” when a whole village vowed to pilgrim to the painting every year at a specific date as a way of giving thanks for the received grace.
The pilgrim tradition became so strong that in 1702 due to a threat from the Swedish invaders the painting was sent to the Holy Cross church in Opole where it remains to this day. Its place in Piekary has been taken by a replacement which itself soon became known for miracles.
On the 20th of August 1683, before embarking to the Siege of Vienna, King John III Sobieski visited the painting to ask the Madonna of Piekary for a blessing. Starting with the date of the Siege of Vienna – the 12th September 1683, that day of victory is celebrated as the Our Lady of Piekary Feast. King August II, his son August III, the emperor Frederick Wilhelm IV and the Countess Lanckorońska also visited the Sanctuary.
The years between the 1st and 2nd World Wars date as the period when the first male and female yearly pilgrimages took place. Women and maidens pilgrim to Our Lady of Piekary on the 15th of August – the feast of the Assumption of Mary – and on the last Sunday of May men and boys make their pilgrimage. In each of the masses about 100-150 thousand pilgrims take part.