Waiting at the bus stop while visiting my girlfriend’s family in Poland, we noticed an old man riding his bicycle on a busy international highway. This 80-year-old man was riding his bicycle after going two miles to downtown to shop for needed supplies in the city.
After shopping, he always visited his wife’s grave on the way home and sat with her in silence a few minutes, then lit the candles on her marble grave. He has done this every day since his wife died 5 years ago. “They loved each other so much,” the daughter said. And many times a year, he brought her flowers.
In fact, many of the graves have plants, flower arrangements and lanterns on them year round. Families regularly keep up their loved one’s black, mauve or gray marble grave by washing the stone and cleaning off leaves, trash and weeds. As a result, it is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen.
But All Saints Day is the highlight for over 1000 family members who go to the cemetery and put up to 50 lanterns on the 4×8 foot tomb of their loved one, depending on how many the families could afford. Many times, the lanterns cover the entire tomb. Then the families go to church at noon for mass.
After mass, the 1000 family members walk in procession for a mile to the cemetery carrying candles for the graves. After putting the candles in the lanterns, the people visit and admire the massive demonstration of devotion as the entire cemetery of 1000 graves is illuminated in candlelight. “It is a site to behold,” his daughter said.
And every year, a mass is held in the church to honor the old man’s wife and every time he rides his bicycle there to honor her.