Under the Watchful Eye of Mary

The Praga chapels, the mute witnesses of the history which took place in the gardens they overlook, are present in many areas or both Praga North and Praga South.  They have a symbolic value for its inhabitants we are considered by many be an element of the Praga identity. 

The chapels, being an example of small sacral architecture, can be found in courtyards, façades of tenement houseblocks, hidden in niches, on the corner of streets or inside buildings.  While they are visible principally visible to those who live near them on a daily basis, there has been an increase in interest in the matter of the chapels over the last few years.  The ones in Praga have already taken part in exhibitions, there have been attempts to catalogue them, websites and even books.  Most of the chapels appeared in the gardens of Praga tenement houses during the occupation.  They allowed common prayer and reinforced a feeling of community in times full of the terror of war, fear and tragedy.

The most common types of chapel one can meet in Praga are a wooden box with a glass panel or a freestanding statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (or, more rarely, Christ) whereas little altars in staircases are very rare.  The chapels are being subjected to processes of refreshment, repair and conservation.  Residents take care of them: one can find fresh flowers, or even candles beneath many of them.  Every one of them is unique, though some of them: especially those on the area of old Praga: can be similar.

One of the more interesting examples of small sacral architecture may be found at no. 15 Mińska Street in Kamionek (Praga South). In a niche on a roof of the tenement houseblock from 1891, a figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary with child has been placed.  The figure most likely comes from the 19th Century.  Another Marian chapel- the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of a statue on a plinth- is situated above the garden at no. 11 Ząbkowska Street (Praga North.)  On the same street, at no. 3, there stands another figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a plinth, having above its head something like a canopy with a gloria, also surrounded by a pergola for decorative vegetation.

On the even side, at no. 12, another chapel with a figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be found.  On the plinth is the inscription ‘O Mary Conceived Without Sin,  Pray for Us 1/VIII/1943.’  In the garden of the tenement house on Okrzei 5, there is a rounded tower-like Marian chapel, which has which had a crucifix towards the top.  The figure of Christ can be found in the garden of the tenement houseblock at Targowa 61.  There are also currently chapels in Praga with figures of Saints.  Such an example of small sacral architecture can be found on the grounds of the tram depot at Kawęczyńska Street 16.  On the platform, made of red and clinker brick, there stands St. Christopher, while the chapel itself is secured with a glass construction covered with a roof.



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ul. Mińska 15, Okrzei 5, Targowa 61, Ząbkowska 3, 11 i 12, Kawęczyńska 16