The Black Madonna Project

A Brief History of
Our Lady of Częstochowa

Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowaska

The beloved miraculous icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa is housed in the Monastery of Jasna Góra in Częstochowa, Poland, the national shrine of Poland and, combined, they are the center of Polish Catholicism. It is the third-largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.

According to tradition, the icon was painted by Luke the Evangelist on a tabletop built by Jesus himself and arrived in Poland in 1382 with a Polish army fleeing the Tartars.

It is said that the presence of the holy painting saved its church from being destroyed in a fire, but not before the flames darkened the flesh tone pigments. The two scars on the right cheek are said to have been inflicted when the Hussites stormed the monastery in 1430, stealing the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the thieves tried to get away, 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 squirmed in agony until his death.

There are numerous miracles for which the Black Madonna is credited. The most famous occurred in 1655, when Swedish troops were about to invade Częstochowa. A group of Polish soldiers prayed fervently before the icon for deliverance, and the enemy retreated. In 1656, King John Casimir declared Our Lady of Częstochowa "Queen of Poland" and made the city the spiritual capital of the nation.

Because of the Black Madonna, Częstochowa is regarded as the most popular shrine in Poland, with many Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage there every year. Often, people will line up on the side of the road to hand provisions to the pilgrims as those who walk the distance to Częstochowa walk the entire day and have little means to get things for themselves.

During Nazi occupation, Hitler prohibited pilgrimages to Jasna Góra, but many still secretly made the annual journey. During the Cold War, Jasna Góra was a center of anti-Communist resistance.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa is a Polish-American Roman Catholic shrine near Doylestown, Pennsylvania, founded in 1953. It houses a reproduction of the Black Madonna icon of Częstochowa, Poland.

Another shrine to our of Our Lady of Częstochowa  is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Missouri Ozarks.  The Black Madonna Shrine and Grottos offer a galaxy of dazzling mosaics and multi-colored rock sculptures. Constructed of Missouri tiff rock, the grottos are set in a countryside atmosphere that refreshes the body and soul.

We hope our shrine will be equally as revered when completed.

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