Lipowa Cemetary, Lublin, Poland
History of the Cemetary
cemetary is mainly Catholic, but there are parts reserved for Orthodox,
Protestants and athiests, as well as many memorials to past rebellions,
war dead etc as well as significant people from Lublin's history. The cemetary
was established in 1809 with the first burials occuring in 1811 and is
now, apart from the Orthodox part, almost full. In the past it had been
the custom to rent sites and when the rental payments ceased, to rent the
sites to other people. However, now you buy the rights to the site and
burials now are just a case of filling up present tombs. In the 1980's,
the Orthodox priest raised some money by selling off the now largely derelict
orthodox part of the cemetary to catholics. To cope with those not lucky
enough to have bought a space in the most beautiful cemetary in the ever
expanding Lublin, a new cemetary was opened on the outskirts of the city
on a green field site.
Before the Lipowa cemetary was opened, city people were either buried
in churchyards or in tombs in the church itself, if they could afford it.
In 1728, the were suggestions among priests that it was not healthy to
bury people so close to churches in the city. However, people who lived
in the city did not want to be buried outside the city borders as up until
then that had been were the poor, victims of epidemics, actors, suicides,
convicted criminals and women who died during labour (and was called a
dogs burial). People strongly associated being buried near a church as
part of the Christian faith, and to be buried far from a church was to
be taken away from his faith. It was the custom to carry the coffin very
slowly on peoples shoulders, but what is now Lipowa street was at the time
just a muddy lane, and almost impassable in the spring thaw.
In 1792, the police demanded that all funerals should be carried beyond
the city borders. Some land was bought and preparations made to make it
a cemetary. When the cemetary was finally opened in 1809, still no one
was prepared to be buried there until The Masons began burying their dead
there in 1811. Sometime after this, the churchyards in the city were closed
and the bodies reinterred in Lipowa and a monument erected.
By 1900, there were 50 000 people buried there, but only some 3% had
some permanent grave with a monument.
The cemetary was repeatedly expanded until the 1920's. At this point,
Lublin began to expand around the cemetary. In 1932, a second cemetary
was opened at Unicka Street, and after this, the Lipowa began to be a very
The Lipowa cemetary is divided into lots with wide paths between each
lot, water supplies and rubbish skips at regular intervals to assist in
the cleaning of graves, watering of flowers and disposal of used lamps.
There are so many mature trees that from a distance it more resembles a
large wood than a cemetary. Outside each of the entrances there are to
be found candle and flower sellers throughout the year. Usually this amounts
to one stall or kiosk at each of the small entrances and about half a dozen
at the main entrance on Lipowa street. However, for All Saints/All Souls
at the end of October/beginning of November for about a week it is mayhem
as dozens and dozens of temporary stalls open to sell candles and flowers
to the thousands of catholics who come to clean and decorate the families
graves. To visit a cemetary in Poland at this time of the year is to see
an amazing sight as the paths are as busy as a town high street on a saturday
morning. the crowds do not dissapear at night as people come back to see
the thousands of candles and coloured lamps burning there. As there is
anywhere between 1 and about 15 candles/lamps to a grave and Lipowa must
have 20-30 000 closely packed graves..... . People also come to put
candles in front of the monuments, and popular ones like the one commemorating
the November Uprising can have hundreds of candles at any one time.
The Catholic Cemetary (Cmentarz Rzymsko-Katolicki)
This is by far the largest part of the cemetary and is so full of stone
graves, crosses etc, that it can be difficult to get to some of the graves
in the centre of each lot.
Most graves consist of a stone slab with a headstone or cross. Some
have monuments of angels or small towers and some are quite large.
All Saints/All Souls Days
All Saints Day on the 1st of November and All Souls Day on the 2nd of November
are an important part of the Roman Catholic calendar with regard to cemetaries.
At this point I will note that those of the Orthodox faith have a similar
date in the early spring, where they put food and candles on the graves,
but I am not familiar with the faith beyond knowing that.
The most probable history of these 2 days date back to pre-christian
times and the rites related with the Autumn (Fall) and Spring solstices
(the points midway between the longest and shortest days of the year).
The spring solstice is usually connected with birth and growth, while the
Autumn (Fall) solstice with that of death. The root of Halloween and All
Saints are coneected, but this is not surprising as the early Christians
were adept at incorporating parts of pre-christian faith into christianity
(Northern European tree worship has found its way into our homes at Christmas
time through German customs, in the form of the Christmas tree). Anyway,
whatever the history, it is the custom in Poland for Christians to maintain
their family graves, with a special effort at All Saints/All Souls, and
to a lesser extent at Christmas, Easter, birthdays of the deceased, name
days of the saints who shared the same christian name with the deceased,
anniversaries of death etc. All Saints/All Souls is the one day in which
people will try and get back to their ancestoral land and try and visit
as many graves as possible, usually organising within the family who goes
to what cemetary so that no one gets forgotten. During the days and nights
of the holiday itself, people try to get around and visit as many of the
graves as they can, leaving at least one candle on each.
of the flower (kwiat) and candle (znicze) market outside the cemetary.
The graves themselves are usually tombs, holes dug in the ground with
a 'stone' construction on the top, the top slab of which is removable so
that the next coffin can be dropped in on top of the last one until the
grave is full. Maintenance of the grave is done by the family. In most
cemetaries you do not get a patch of land which is yours forever (or until
some archeoligist comes along in 2000 years time!), but you rent the space
for up to 40 years and then your bones are put in the bone store. The exceptions
to this are becoming famous enough that your grave becomes a sort of national
memorial, or the cemetary closing (no more people of that faith/the local
town/city has now enclosed the cemetary/etc). Hence, if you have enough
descendents, and your position in the cemetary remains, then your grave
remains in good condition and repairs carried out as required. If your
family dies out, or go abroad, then your grave decays unless some kind
soul or charity at least gives it at least some bare maintenance. However,
at least at All Saints/All Souls someone will stop by and put a candle
on your grave if there is no family to do so - usually it is by people
who look after graves nearby.
The first step of grave preparation is to wash down the stone and brush
off any build up of earth or dead leaves. This is not too difficult a task
as most graves are raised about 12-18" above the surrounding land. Moving
around the grave, or even getting to it if it is not close to the path
is often quite difficult as the graves can be very close together in places.
Water for cleaning is usually available at pumps or taps dotted around
the cemetary. Of course, and old flowers, coniferous branches or rings,
and old candle lamps are cleared away and old wax scraped from the stone.
of znicze on just one stand of many. In this picture you can see both plastic
and glass lamps, with some bare candles on the right hand edge of the picture.
Flower arrangements kept on balconies are often bought several days
before they are needed, and then kept on balconies to keep them from drying
out until they are needed. They are arranged on the grave along with the
candles (znicze) and the candles lit. Once the grave is prepared and prayers
made (for those not of the Catholic faith, it is well to remember that
most souls are stuck in purgatory and prayers to them help shorten their
time there) then it is time to go and visit the other family graves and
put candles on those as well.
As there are so many people travelling to cemetaries, the police are
out in force directing the traffic, and in Lublin there are special bus
services to and between the cemetaries to help people get around. Anyway,
here are the pictures:
have gone round the stalls and decided what you want, now is the time to
buy. At the nearest edge of the table are candles in plain translucent
red plastic containers. Also available are those small candles which are
often used in night lights, these are the cheapest and are put on the national
memorials in large quantities. Some people, who have a lot of graves to
visit, often by lamps in packs of 4, 8, 10 etc.
This is the
central path through Unicka street cemetary, and you can see just how many
people there are.
between the 2 halves of Unicka street cemetary.
was cleaned a few days before, now the flowers are on and the candles are
lit, now for a final brush over.
This is about
miday on All Souls Day. By the same time the next day, there were about
100% more flowers and far more candles.
part of the Unicka cemetary.
In the military
part of the Unicka cemetary, with candles at the monument in memory of
the people imprisoned in Lublin castle and later killed.
and flowers on a grave.
A very small
part of the Lipowa street cemetary.
closed candle lamps on a family grave.
of lamps brought at different times by different members of a family
the 1863 Uprising memorial.
of small lamps on the Lipowa cemetary Lublin castle memorial.
family graves in the Lipowa street cemetary
part of the Lipowa street cemetary
The Orthodox Cemetary
During the time when this part of Poland was annexed as part of the Russian
empire, there was a significant number of people living here of the Orthodox
faith. This part of the cemetary was opened in the third quarter of the
19th century. There were two churches and a chapel within Lipowa cemetary
itself. Since the re-establishment of Poland after the first world war,
the number of people of the orthodox faith have dwindled and now this part
of the cemetary is largely derelict. The orthodox chapel, although little
used, is a beautiful example and is built in a combination of yellow and
red brick. In comparison, the catholic chapel seems little more than functional
in it's stained grey plaster.
Decoration of graves in the orthodox calender occurs in the spring,
and people decorate the graves with flowers, candles and food.
Other Parts of the Cemetary
A unique feature of Lipowa cemetary in comparison to other Polish cemetaries
was that, after the Protestants received part of the cemetary for them
selves in the third quarter of the 19th century, an area was set aside
between the protestant and catholic areas for the burial of members of
During the communist times many people who were members of the communist
party were buried in simple graves with no crosses, as religion was rather
heavily frowned upon.
One part is devoted to soviet soldiers who died during the second world
war and there is also a monument consisting of a stone helmet mounted on
a small mound and which has a space underneath it large enough for about
A Selection of Names at Lipowa
Below is a selction of names of people buried at Lipowa, made from a list
of notable local people. I have a booklet giving information on each, contact
me at the address at the bottom of the page.
Araszkiewicz, Baranowski, Baranowski, Barszczewski, Barwicki, Bechczyc-Rudnicka,
Bieczyński, Bieliński, Bieliński, Bielski, Biernacki, Bogdanowicz, Brankiewicz,
Bryk, Chmielarczyk, Chmielewski, Chromiński, Czechowicz, Czerwmski, Czugała,
Czyżowa, Dederko, Doliński, Frankowski, Frenkiel-Ossowska, Głowacki, Gostkowski,
Gralewski, Grotowski, Gryga, Halban, Jaczewski, Jankowski, Jaworowska,
Jaworowski, Jurgo, Kędzierski, Kietlicz-Rayski, Klepacki, Korsak, Kossakowska,
Kozłowski, Kozyrski, Krasnopolska, Kunicki, Kurzątkowski, Kwapiszewska,
Kwiatkowski, Laśkiewicz, Leszczyński, Liebhart, Lingenau, Litwiniuk, Lubieniecki,
Łopaciński, Łosakiewicz, Magierska, Magierski, Malewski, Malicki, Malm,
Marciniak, Markiewicz, Mazurkiewicz, Mędrkiewicz, Miemowski, Mincel, Modrzewska,
Mokrski, Ostrołęcki, Pajdowski, Parczyński, Plewiński, Przanowski, Puławski,
Raabe, Radziszewski, Ronikier, Rodakiewicz, Rotkel, Rybczyk, Sękowski,
Sobolewska, Stein, Stelmasiak, Strąkowski, Suligowski, Szaniawski, Szibicher,
Ściegienny, Śląska, Śląski, Świeży, Timme, Torończyk, Trawiński, Trojanowski,
Uhorczak, Urmowski, WadowskiJan, Waleszyński, Wasilkowski, Wiercieński,
Włodziński, Wnorowski, Woliński, Wolski, Wyszyński, Voit, Zajączkowski,
Zalewski, Zdzitowiecki, Ziemecki, Ziółkowski, Żywczyński
As I receive requests for information, I will add the translations here:
Gralewski, Wacław 1900-1972.
Author, journalist, involved in cutural activities, officer in the
AK during WW2 (AK was the underground army under the control of the Polish
government in London). Established and co-edited a literary magazine 'Reflektor'
between the wars and was a journalist for the newspaper 'Ekspres Lubelski'.
He wrote articles about current affairs, short stories and poems. After
the war he was a member of the war crimes commision. Helped to establish
a writers union in Lublin.
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