Częstochowa – the most popular shrine in Poland

Hello dears, this article is dedicated to Częstochowa, since the lady of Częstochowa became a symbolic indicator for me of the people with kind heart and with best Polish values. I visited Częstochowa when I was not quite familiar with Poland, but still I have heard about the miracle worker the Most Holy Virgin Mary icon from best friend of mine since school.

When we both were students, she learned Polish language at the University, meanwhile I had one semester of Ukrainian and we were comparing these two languages. Unfortunately, my main campus was far from the language center of the university, so I did not go on, but my friend finished Polish language courses and she was sharing all of her cultural knowledge to me.  It was the period for me of appreciation the role of Poland in freedom and independence of Georgia. Since then we planned to meet in Poland. It became true this spring, she was the coordinator of the youth exchange in Częstochowa and I had already started volunteering.

We had limited time, but we managed to see the Holy Virgin Mary icon – The Black Madonna. I still remember the emotions, when I looked at the icon and I could not stop tears from my eyes. This icon has that blessing to cure the diseases and considered to be the protector of Poland. May be it was so familiar and emotional to me, because we consider Georgia as a land, which belongs to Holy Virgin Mary. I had to find out more about this icon.

Częstochowa is regarded as the most popular shrine in Poland, with many Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage there every year. Since 1711, a pilgrimage leaves Warsaw every August 6 for the nine-day, 140-mile trek. Elderly pilgrims recall stealing through the dark countryside at great personal risk during the Nazi occupation. Pope John Paul II secretly visited as a student pilgrim during World War II. The feast day of Our Lady of Częstochowa is celebrated on August 26. For most of the Georgians, this is quite familiar ritual too.

The Black Madonna is said to have miraculously saved the monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Mount) from a Swedish invasion. The Siege of Jasna Góra took place in the winter of 1655 during the Second Northern War, as the Swedish invasion of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth is known. The Swedes were attempting to capture the Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa. The sacred icon was replaced with a copy and the original moved in secret to the castle in Lubliniec, and later to the Pauline monastery in Mochów between the towns of Prudnik and Głogówek. 70 monks and 180 local volunteers, mostly from the Szlachta (Polish nobility), held off 4,000 Swedes for 40 days, saved their sacred icon and, according to some accounts, turned the course of the war. This event led King John II Casimir Vasa to give what has become known as the Lwów Oath. He submitted the Polish Commonwealth under the protection of Our Lady and proclaimed her Queen of Poland in the cathedral of Lwów on April 1, 1656.

There is also a Legends about the Madonna’s appearance:  The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna’s right cheek is that the Hussites (Czech proto-Protestant Christians) stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. The Hussites tried to get away after putting it in their wagon, but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground, and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax.

Also, interesting fact is that, Ukrainians have a special devotion to the Madonna of Częstochowa. The icon is often mentioned in Ukrainian folk songs from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Afterward, I also have one little copy of the Black Madonna, and when I meet people with the icon of the Black Madonna, for me it means I found another patriotic, trustworthy friend in Poland. Hope will visit again and spent more time in the church.

If you want to discover real Polish soul, you should visit Częstochowa.

Mariam

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