Tarnow

Shrine of the Sorrowful Jesus

  ul. Węgierska, Gorlice     25 Jun 2021
This small chapel at the corner of Węgierska and Kościuszki streets in the Zawodzie district of Gorlice marks the site where the world's first kerosene street lamp was lit in 1854. That's right, this once-rural, now-quite-busy intersection in Gorlice was the first place in the world to be illuminated by oil lamp - a new technology that swept across the world in the second half of the 19th century. That's thanks to local resident Ignacy Łukasiewicz, who invented the kerosene lamp and kickstarted modern civilisation's 'Age of Oil.' A sgraffito mural behind the shrine pays tribute to Łukasiewicz's contributions and there's a monument to the great man across ul. Kościuszki just steps away.

A few things we noticed here: 1) If we're to assume that the lighting of the world's first kerosene streetlamp resembled the scene depicted in the mural here, then it wasn't really a streetlamp, but rather one of Łukasiewicz's standard kerosene lamps hung almost at eye-level on the side of the existing chapel. Whether there were ever other kerosene streetlamps in Gorlice is unclear. 2) The chapel today holds a faithful replica, not of Łukasiewicz's kerosene lamp, but of a 16th centruy sculpture dubbed the 'Worrying Christ' or 'Sorrowful Jesus,' which washed up in the district when the Ropa River overflowed. The original Jesus can be found in the Gorlice PTTK Regional Museum today, while a more faithful reproduction of the original lamp can be seen in a recess in the exterior of the Gorlice Town Hall. 3) The lamp on the shrine today is not a kerosene lamp, but an electric one, and isn't at all effective as a streetlamp when lit. In fact, there's a modern streetlamp standing directly next to it.

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