Gorzkie Żale (Bitter Sorrows) – Płock, Poland


Gorzkie Żale (Bitter Sorrows) is a traditional Polish devotion conducted during the period of Lent. This tradition is characterized by hymns, prayers, and sermons reflecting on the Passion of Christ and the sorrows of His Blessed Mother. One of the significant ceremonies takes place in the city of Płock, Poland, and is attended by locals and visitors alike.


The Gorzkie Żale devotion originated in the early 18th century in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw and quickly spread to other parts of Poland, becoming an integral part of Polish Lenten tradition. The hymns are a series of chants, mournfully contemplating the suffering of Christ, invoking reflection and repentance in the lead-up to Easter.

The Ceremony

In Płock, the Gorzkie Żale is usually held in the city’s cathedral or other significant churches. The service includes the singing of the Gorzkie Żale hymns, usually divided into three parts: a contemplation of the Passion of Christ, a reflection on the sorrows of Mary, and a meditation on death and the Last Judgment.

The services are typically held on Sundays during Lent, and are often accompanied by a sermon or reflection related to the themes of the hymns. The ceremony is usually conducted in Polish, but the deep, emotional resonance of the music and the ceremony itself is impactful regardless of language.


The ceremonies take place in the churches, which provide the necessary facilities including seating, restrooms, and often a place for prayer and reflection.


Płock, being one of the oldest cities in Poland and a significant cultural center, has a range of accommodation options. These include hotels, guesthouses, and bed-and-breakfast establishments. As Płock is a relatively compact city, most accommodations are within a reasonable distance of the city’s churches.

How to Get There

Płock is accessible by road and rail from other parts of Poland. Regular bus and train services connect Płock to Warsaw and other cities. The city also has a small airport, Płock Airport, suitable for light aircraft.

Once in Płock, the city has an efficient public transport system including buses. The churches where the Gorzkie Żale ceremonies take place are generally centrally located and easily accessible by foot, public transport, or taxi. Detailed information about the exact location and timing of the ceremonies can usually be found on the website of the respective church or the Płock diocese.