Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna
Miraculous icon housed at the Jasna Gora Monastery, Czestochowa, Poland
Tradition states that St. Luke painted this image of Our Lady on a cedar tabletop used in the holy family’s house (thus one of the reasons he’s the patron saint of artists). It was discovered in Jerusalem in 326 by St. Helena and she took it back to Constantinople.
Art historians argue the image is actually a Byzantine Icon written between the sixth and ninth centuries. Since it’s creation, failed restoration attempts have altered Mary’s appearance, with some believing no trace of the orignal image exists. The reason she is called black is due to the darkening of her face, and the image, from years of candle soot, dirt, and age.
The two prominent slashes in her face are said to be from a robber who, in raising his blade to slice her a third time, fell to the ground and died writhing in agony. Other, less visible cuts to Mary’s neck were supposedly made by Tartar invaders.
Although her path from the ancient world to Poland is unclear, most historians agree she arrived in Poland in the late 14th century. In 1655, the monastery where the icon is housed was besieged by 3,000 Swedish troops. Despite only having 260 men to defend the monastery, the Swedes were defeated. The next year, King John Casmir consecrated his lands to the Holy Virgin Mary.
In 1920, with Russians nearing Warsaw, Poles begged Our Lady of Czestochowa to protect them. Their prayers were answered as Poland defeated Russia at Wisla River in what is still known as ‘The Miracle of the Wisla’. St. Pope John Paul II was devoted to the icon and made two trips during his papacy to the monastery.
Numerous other miracles are recorded and kept by the Pauline monks at Jasna Gorna. In the United States, people can visit a replica of the Black Madonna at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylsetown, PA. There is also a chapel dedicated to her in the upper church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa
Holy Mother of Czestochowa, you are full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrated to you all my thoughts, words and actions – my soul and body. I beseech your blessings and especially prayers for my salvation.
Today I consecrate myself to you, good Mother, totally – with body and soul amid joy and sufferings, to obtain for myself and others your blessings on this earth and eternal life in heaven. Amen
Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us.
Tomorrow, Seven Quick Takes featuring Nyina wa Jambo, Mother of the Word!
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