Queen of Poland, Pray for Us!

The origin of the iconic image of our Blessed Mother is not known for certain, although it is believed to have been painted by St. Luke after the Crucifixtion and taken to Constantinople in the 4th Century. Eventually it came into the possession of a Polish prince, St. Ladislaus, who displayed it in his castle.

After several attacks by raiders on the castle, St. Ladislaus, determined to protect the painting, decided to take it to Opala (his birthplace). Along the way, he stopped in Czestochowa, taking the painting into a church named for the Assumption for the night. The next morning, August 26th, he attempted to load it into his wagon to continue the journey, but his horses refused to move. St. Ladislaus took this as a heavenly sign that the painting should stay in Czestochowa. It was permanently installed in the Church of the Assumption, under the watchful eye of the Pauline fathers.

In 1430, Hussite invaders stormed the Pauline monastery and tried to steal the painting, but after traveling a short distance, their horses also refused to move. Recalling the previous occurrence, they hurled it from their wagon, breaking the icon into three pieces.

A large Swedish army invaded the region in 1655, but was repelled by a much smaller group of 300 men guarding the image. The following year saw Mary acclaimed as Queen and Protector of Poland.

Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa

HOLY MOTHER of Czestochowa, Thou art full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrate to Thee all my thoughts, words and actions----my soul and body. I beseech Thy blessings and especially prayers for my salvation. Today, I consecrate myself to Thee, Good Mother, totally ----with body and soul amid joy and sufferings to obtain for myself and others Thy blessings on this earth and eternal life in Heaven. Amen.

In 1920, Russian forces assembled on the shores of the River Vistula for an invasion of Poland, and the Polish people played the Blessed Virgin. The following day, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa appeared in the clouds, and the Russians withdrew.

During World War II, in defiance to Hitler, the Polish people continued to make pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, praying for their land.

The icon is sometimes referred to as "The Black Madonna". The dark pigment in her skin is the source of much scholarly discussion. Some say the painting was repaired during the Byzantine era, with the pigment added at that time in reflection of artistic reference of the time. Others ascribe the pigment to simple age, a previous fire at the shrine where it was stored, or from the painting having been stored in dark places where the only light was from candles; the smoke from the candles having darkened it over time. There is also a biblical reference in the Canticle of Canticles, which says, "I am black but beautiful".

Regardless of the origins of its appearance, the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is a promenient one for our day. St. John Paul II prayed before her several times during his papacy. The image and associated Intercession of our Blessed Mother is credited with many miracles of healing. And through it all, the image remains a strong symbol of the Polish people, making it an excellent choice as the patron of our parish!