Sunday, October 19, 2014

Black Madonna: Jasna Gora, Poland

Black Madonna: Our Lady of Czestochowa

The image is sometimes called Our Lady of Jasna Gora after the name of the monastery site in which it has been kept for six centuries. Joan Carroll Cruz relates the following 'miracle story' regarding the selection of this site:
St. Ladislaus determined to save the image from the repeated invasions of the Tartars by taking it to the more secure city of Opala, his birthplace. This journey took him through Czestochowa, where he decided to rest for the night. During this brief pause in their journey, the image was taken to Jasna Gora meaning (Bright Hill"). There it was placed in a small wooden church named for the Assumption. The following morning, after the portrait was carefully replaced in its wagon, the horses refused to move. Accepting this as a heavenly sign that the portrait was to remain in Czestochowa, St. Ladislaus had the image solemnly returned to the Church of the Assumption.
the Black Madonna and (possibly) King John Casimir and Father Augustyn Kordecki
The Holy Icon of the Black Madonna is a particular focus of worship for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians and is considered miraculous. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and, is the most important sites of the worship. It has for centuries been the heart of pilgrimage in Poland.

Legend has it that an attempt was made to steal the painting in 1430 but it became so heavy it was impossible to lift it. In frustration the thieves slashed the canvas with a knife making two cuts on the virgin's face which oozed blood. The marks are still visible today.

At one point Poland almost disappeared from the map. During Poland's turbulent history Swedes, Germans, and Russians have all overpowered the Polish nation but throughout, their faith has remained strong and the Virgin has always been there for them.

We were in the center of hundreds of people praying there, and the beauty was that, neither were we bothering them in their prayer, nor were they bothered by our presence. We could just walk around silently admiring the hundred years of history. Absolutely beautiful! How I wish our temples could be more organised and disciplined like this.

The miracle for which the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is 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.

The Virgin again came to the aid of her people in 1920, when the Soviet Russian Red Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River, preparing to attack Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to Our Lady of Częstochowa, and on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared in the clouds above Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of battles later dubbed the "Miracle at the Vistula."

During Nazi occupation, Hilter prohibited pilgrimages to Jasna Góra, but many still secretly made the journey. In 1945, after Poland was liberated, half a million pilgrims journeyed to Częstochowa to express their gratitude. On September 8, 1946, 1.5 million people gathered at the shrine to rededicate the entire nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the Cold War, Jasna Góra was a center of anti-Communist resistance.

In the main part of the shrine, the walls are completely covered with Rosaries, pure silver and pure gold hearts, Rosaries made of amber (the worth of all of those amber Rosaries are about $2 million), as well as crutches and canes. All of these things were left because of the healings that have taken place in front of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. These things were left by devotees who had experienced the Black Madonna's power.

The main Nave of the Basilica

 The Baroque Basilica interiors: really stunning!

                See the interiors of Jasna Gora: beautiful  frescos and paintings.

There have been reports for centuries of miraculous events such as spontaneous healings occurring to those who made a pilgrimage to the portrait. It gets its name "Black Madonna" from the soot residue that discolors the painting. The soot is the result of centuries of votive lights and candles burning in front of the painting. With the fall of communism in Poland, pilgrimages to the Black Madonna have increased dramatically.
Here too they keep changing the dress of Mother every day.

                                                           The Sundials
Europe, as you would see is full of Churches and Museums, good roads, good transport, and excellent cafe's. The architecture too seems to be more or less the same. However, nothing can beat our country, which is very different in every aspect, the variety of food, the various cultures/customs of different regions, different religions and different languages. 
The exteriors of Jasna Gora: they have acres of beautiful garden

Outside they have a huge altar built from where open air masses are celebrated to the crowds gathered there on certain festival days.
This picture of a huge bell in the compound, has lots and lots of coins(cents, euros etc.) and totally unguarded, yet you don't see anybody stealing: this is Poland for you, a country filled with honest and hard working people, who at the same time know how to have fun too.

I have decided to write about all the places visited by us, for it would help me remember them. It is natural to forget, when we see so many places together, and with all of them looking similar.

Happy Diwali!!!


  1. The basilica interiors are stunning as ever! I can never get tired of enjoying them. Loved the Mother Mary mural, what choice of contrast colors indeed!

    1. Thank you, Padmaja. There were so many stunning frescos, if we were to take pictures of each and every frescos , we would have stayed there itself.

  2. Happy Deepavali to you and your family. Thanks for the beautiful photos.

    1. Same to you too, enjoy your Deepavali in Chennai, eating all the bathanams and legaim!

  3. I wrote my comments and I don't know what I did wrong: it dissapeared!

    Well, I read this post (I will work my way backward, as I've fallen much behind) with pleasure, as Poland is a country I would like to visit but I never been there. You are right, our countries, here in Europe, ar much or less the same but I mean groups of them: Western, Central, European countries. There are not so many differences. I like you wrote that nothing could beat your country: you are right, keeping in mind that India is a sub-continent!

    In the north of our country, I visited also a Polish church, erected by miners who worked there, at Cacica. I wrote about it on my blog. There it is also a Black Madonna portrait.

  4. I love all the European countries, they are well maintained and they are easy to navigate with good transport facilities. In our country not all places are well connected, and it would also take years for us to come even to close to level of cleaniness of Europe.
    In our country the basics are the same everywhere( dust, pollution, bad roads, bad transport etc.), but one can never get confused about the places visited, for they are all very different from each other.
    We also visited the famous salt mines in Krakow, which was very beautiful. Would write about that soon.
    Thanks TH.

  5. Faith is the force of life indeed Rama. Ancient art work is better preserved in Europe. Like you rightly observed, India still has lots to do to improve its cleanliness standard, but at least we are headed in the right direction now. looking forward to enjoying more virtual tours here :)
    Wish you and your family a very Happy and prosperous Deepavali :)

  6. Thanks for the beautiful photos. Love the European architecture.

  7. Wow. Some interesting trivia there. I dont think we get to read a lot about Poland as much as we read about other countries. And the more you continue with your Poland series, the more I'm tempted to add it to my bucket list :-)

    And lovely pics :-)

    1. Yes it is indeed a country with lot of sad history. However, it is really admirable how they have come out of it and progressed so well in a such short period.
      Makes me wonder, where are we. We really have a long way to go.
      Thanks Ashwini.

  8. What a history...... wonder what that 1 and 2 is marked on both sides.

    1. The numbers are meant to tell the visitors, what are the expensive gifts like silver,gold and other ornaments given by various kings and others over the years. There are silver , gold and diamond studded dress for Madonna and the infant Jesus. Actually we could have taken the picture of the real alter where people were praying, but my husband didn't want to disturb them. Pictures are allowed everywhere, without using the flash.

    2. Thank you for taking us to Poland.We too have a good many number of murals,paintings,sculptures and a variety of Art-work in this Unique country.But what we lack is civic sense, hard work and acumen to preserve them without spoiling its antique prettiness.So we expect journeys to other places too.

    3. Yes , what you say is very correct, we have a beautiful country, we have excellent monuments, we have smart people, yet we find ourselves incapable of keeping our country clean. Somewhere we have lost it. it is really sad, and when we see other countries so well developed in such a short time, we have wonder, as to what is wrong with us.

  9. Enjoyed the detour to Poland. I have a friend who migrated there. I love the solitude and peace around churches.

    1. Not only around the churches , everywhere there is peace and calm there. They have lots of space and very few people. Thanks for liking the Poland tour.

  10. Lovely trip to a lovely country, Rama:) I regret having gone by very close but could not make it!