Seven Joys of Mary Wayside Shrines

Rychwałd, Poland

The design of the Seven Joys of Mary Wayside Shrines is located in the immediate vicinity of the baroque Basilica Minor of St. Nicholas in Rychwałd, near Żywiec. It encompasses a footpath which corresponds to the path of faith based on a spiritual exercise. Rooted in the Franciscan praying tradition, this internal exercise has been referred to, for centuries, as the Franciscan Crown Chaplet of the Seven Joys of Mary. The seven sacral objects have been erected alongside the pathway leading to the Marian cave. Walking from one shrine to another means gradual plumbing and meditating the subsequent joyful mysteries of the life of the Virgin Mary.

The simplicity and white colour of the shrines are interrelated with the architecture of the historic church surrounded by a wall. Additionally, the architecture of those demure structures derives from archetypal, traditional forms of like buildings, which are commonly present in the Żywiecczyzna Region. It is a modern outlook on the traditional form for many of them consist of three parts. And three is the number of symbolic meaning in Christianity. The three aforementioned parts are present in this new project by means of three cubic modules.

On the most lower segment there is a bas-relief with a quotation from the Holy Bible, which corresponds with the contemplated mystery. It serves as a prelude and directs to the middle part where a bas-relief depicting the described scene appears. The third module consists of a cross surrounded by mirror mosaics, which create infinite reflections of said cross together with the surrounding scenery. This space metaphorically alludes to the impenetrable as well as infinite spiritual reality and should encourage to contemplation and induce the desire to discover that reality further. In this manner, the shrines guide a believer through the Word of God, through the image, to the fathoming of the Absolute – presented by a cross; here ,unusually, accompanied by the shimmering mosaics. At night, the last module of each shrine is illuminated causing the cross – the symbol of the resurrected Christ – to emerge from the darkness. The light glancing off the small mirror squares illumes the closest surrounds and the footpath.

Architects: Jakub Turbasa, Bartłomiej Pyrzyk.
Location: Rychwałd (near Żywiec), Poland
Sculptor: Józef Gałązka
Project: 2016
Construction: 2018
Client: Franciscans – St. Nicholas Parish in Rychwałd
Photographs: Jakub Turbasa, Jerzy Turbasa

Jakub Turbasa