Together with Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the sanctuary of Our Lady the Queen of Podhale is the primary pilgrimage centre in the Małopolska region. Ludźmierz is the oldest Catholic parish in Podhale, dating back to the 13th century (1234). Since ca. 1400, the church has been home to the sculpture ‘Gaździna Podhala’. Between 1869 and 1877, a new Neogothic stone church replaced the original larch-wood structure, and the Rococo main altar, with its miraculous Our Lady of Ludźmierz figurine, was transferred there. The figurine is the central point of Podhale’s spiritual life and an inspiration to artists: Nieszpory Ludźmierskie by Pawluśkiewicz, Litania Podhalańska by Gutowski, or Opera Góralska by Łojas-Kośla, to name but a few. Ludźmierz was where Przerwa-Tetmajer, Wańkowicz and Orkan wrote their poetry and novels, and where Tischner prayed. Ludźmierz was beloved by Saint John Paul II, who in 1963, together with Primate Wyszyński, crowned the sculpture of Our Lady of Ludźmierz. The then Bishop Wojtyła famously saved the figurine’s sceptre from dropping to the ground. In the 1980s, the sanctuary was extended with a pilgrim house, the Stations of the Cross and an open-air altar, where John Paul II prayed the rosary in his 1997 pilgrimage to Poland. In recent years, a shrine to St John Paul II and a rosary garden were added. The driving force behind the sanctuary’s expansion is the pastoral care of religious life in Podhale and spreading the veneration of Our Lady of Ludźmierz to the entire world.
Marian devotion plays a special part in the spirituality of the Pauline Fathers. The next leg of the Pauline Fathers’ Trail leads from Ludźmierz to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Częstochowa at Bachledówka, which is cared for by the Paulines.