Suwałki Region for many centuries has been characterised by great forests and low population of people. Wigry Island – a hill surrounded by lake’s waters – due to its defensive location was inhabited by Baltic tribes of Yotvingians which were conquered in the second half of XIII century by Teutonic Order.
Already in XI century the area of current ełk parish was taken into patronage by St. Brunon from Kerfurt (+1009). He attempted to start church’s administration there. It was only done when the Wigry Island was given to Camaldoleses Monastery. Consistent and fruitful work leaved a mark on surrounding territories for centuries to come. Wigry Hermitage was created on king Jan II Kazimierz order in 1667. The brick church was started in 1704 but finished in 1745 and was blessed with the name of Immaculate Conception of Holy Virgin Mary. For its entire existence this hermitage as the wealthiest one was helping other hermitages, especially The hermitage of Five Martyr Brothers in Bieniszew. Kameduli from those hermitages would make settlements and from them villages, where they built churches and placed deacon priests at their own cost. Wigry monks also had a herb apothecary just as the kameduli in Golden Forest Hermitage in Rytwiany. From 1794 during partitions, Prussian government took all goods from kameduli and in 1800 deleted hermitage. Currently, renovated hermitage hosts The House Of Creative Work of Ministry of Culture.
Church’s underground, kameduli burial niches, frescos “Death dance danse macabre” – (Kameduli facetiously portrayed as a person afraid of death)