This September marks the 300-year-old anniversary of the crowning of our Lady of Czestochowa as Queen and Protector of Poland by Clement XI. But just who was she? What impact did she have? In honor of her recent feast day, we’ll take a closer look at the fascinating story of the “Black Madonna.”
Tradition says that after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Virgin Mary moved to Saint John’s home. She took some personal objects with her, among them was a table made in St. Joseph’s workshop. Devout women of Jerusalem asked St. Luke to create a painting of the Mother of God, who used that same table, to paint the image. The painting remained in Jerusalem until the Romans started to destroy the city. The image moved to Constantinople, where the Christians protected it. It remained there for 500 years until St. Ladislaus, a Polish Prince, decided it would be best to bring it back to its birthplace. While traveling back to Jerusalem, the horses carrying the image did not want to move any further when they reached Czestochowa, a small town in Poland. In a dream, the prince saw Our Lady who told him she wanted to be venerated in Czestochowa. She has been there ever since and has had thousands of pilgrims travel to worship her.
Why is she called the Black Madonna?
Since thousands of pilgrims have venerated the painting by burning candles in front of it, soot residue has discolored the painting. The darkness can also be attributed to the poor conditions of the places where the painting has been hidden to safeguard her.
Why is this year important?
During the crowing of Czestochowa, Clement XI bestowed upon the painting a golden crown and jewel. In 1909, those items were stolen, along with a pearl robe. In 1910, the painting was crowned by St. Pius and then again in 2005 by St. John Paul, but the originals were never recovered. In honor of the 300th anniversary, a world renowned Italian artist, Michele Affidato, is replicating the original crowns. Pope Francis blessed the new crowns on May 17 at the Vatican. The crowing itself took place on September 8, the 300th anniversary of the first canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa and the feast of the Nativity of Mary. Since 94% of Poland’s population is Catholic, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa has a significant meaning for the people of Poland.
We are awed by the story of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Her journey is truly a miracle and an inspiration to all of us. If you’re interested in a prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa, visit http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/czesto.htm.
Information was taken from http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/czesto.htm