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Ruffians’ chapel

Punkt na szlaku: On the ruffians’ paths

The chapel is located in the surrounding of old bass trees, at the main road going towards the Przełęcz Krowiarka. It is of a house-type, it follows a rectangular plan, made of field stone, covered with hipped roof with bulbous cupola lantern, covered with shingle. Most probably it dates back to the end of the 18th century. According to the tradition, it was founded by ruffians who constructed it as expiatory votive for their sins. read more

In the Zawoja village, in the Policzne hamlet there is a chapel called since time immemorial zbójnicka (ruffians’). Constructed with the field stone, plastered, it is located in the centre of a small plot, facing the main road. It has a small, constructed on a rectangular plan nave and semi-circular closed presbytery. Massive foundations draw our attention with the plinth wider in its contour than the walls of the church. The construction for the church indicated different construction time of the nave and the presbytery. Probably the present-day presbytery was the primary chapel with the nave added to it later.

The chapel has two windows located in the side walls of the presbytery, secured with small steel wrought anchors. It is covered with hipped, shingle roof with bulbous cupola crowned with four-sided lantern and bulbous helmet. In the centre of the altar with folk features there is a painting – oil on canvas – presenting the scene form the Baptism in the Jordan River.

Who and when founded the chapel – documents are silent, however, it cannot be excluded that it was in fact founded with money from ruffians, and there were plenty of them in this surroundings of Babia Góra. It is known that it existed before 1842, as then it was mentioned in the last will of a Maciej Tomczak who received it together with three morgues of land… from Kumora State. Most probably it is the so-called Austrian Kamera that is the Austrian state treasure, which in 1773 took over all previous royal goods (królewszczyzna), meaning the Lanckorona staroste, and Zawoja with it. It would mean that M. Tomczak received the land together with the chapel from the Austrian government which means it had belonged to the state. According to the old tradition, every single supervisor of the chapel could use the plot of land assigned to it.

Probably even before the partitions of Poland, during the Republic of Poland, this piece of meadow was passed to the staroste ownership as the belongings of a convict who “meritoriously” ended his sinful life according to ruffians’ tradition, hanged by a rib on a hook. Therefore it is not excluded, that the chapel was constructed in the 18th century, when the region of Babia Góra, and especially its northern slopes and foot were considered to be the ruffian’s nest. Here, among others one of the most famous harnaś in Western Beskidy Mountains was active – Józef Baczyński, coming from the neighbouring village Skawica, executed in January 1736 in Krakow at Krzemionki, and the society of the Giertuga brothers, mentioned many times in the court documents. At the beginning of 1796 other ruffians’ company headed by the famous harnaś from Beskid Żywiecki – Proćpak from Kamesznica committed a bold raid on the vicarage in Zawoja.

Confirmed historically presence of ruffians in this region makes the fact of founding by them the chapel quite probable. What is more interesting, it has the name of Saint John the Baptist, worshipped as the patron of convicts, and in the Western Carpathian Mountains considered to be the guardian of ruffians. In the chapel, for over a century, on the patron’s day (John the Baptist – on the 24th of June) holy mass is celebrated.

According to the local tradition the name Policzne has ruffians’ origins. In local sheds ruffians from Babia Góra were allegedly searching for shelter and they divided loots, that is they licyli sie. According to linguists, however, the name Policzne comes from the word polica – shelf on which cheese was stored in sheds, and in the huts containers were placed on such shelves. This is the name of the highest peak in the mountain ridge Pasma Policy (1369) – eastern part of the mountain ridge Pasmo Babiogórskie.

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