Anna Bondaruk a Szeptunka from the village of Rutka prays at her home. Bondaruk claims to have a personal connection with Mary and sees villagers throughout the day for healing.

Location: Podlasie Province, Poland

Photographer: Diana Markosian

In remote northeastern Poland there lives a group of elderly Orthodox devotees who are said to possess special powers. They can heal the sick, cast out demons — even still a foe’s heart. Living at a mystical crossroad of Christian faith and folkloric superstition, they consider themselves members of the church, though the church does not. They are called “Whisperers or Szeptun in Polish.

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