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Header-Our Lady of Czestochowa: Marvelous Story of an Embattled Icon

 

In the monastery-fortress of Jasna Gora, in Czestochowa, Poland is venerated an ancient icon of Holy Mary and the Infant God, with a fascinating history. Tradition has it that it was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist on a table built by Our Lord Jesus in St. Joseph’s workshop. Empress Saint Helena who found Our Lord’s cross, also discovered this icon in Jerusalem, and took it to Constantinople where her son, Constantine, built a church to enshrine it. 

Jasna Gora Fortress todayThe image remained in Constantinople for 500 years until, through dowries, it was taken to Russia to a region that later became Poland.

This icon, now known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, has an embattled history.

While still in Constantinople, placed on the wall of the city, the icon so frightened an army of besieging Muslims that they took flight.

 

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Under a Holy King

Interior of the Basilica of CzestochowaIn the 15th century, the polish king Saint Ladislaus installed the holy image in his castle. Tartar invaders besieged the castle and an arrow pierced the image in the region of the throat, leaving a scar.

Interestingly, repeated attempts to repair the damaged painting failed. The scar always reappears.

Wishing to protect the icon from subsequent attacks, Saint Ladislaus took it to his town of birth, Opala.

On the way, he stopped at city of Czestochowa to rest, placing it in the wooden church of the Assumption in the nearby place of Jasna Gora (Bright Hill).

In the morning, the horses pulling the carriage containing the icon refused to move. Taking this as a sign, St. Ladislaus re-installed the image in the church of the Assumption and confided sanctuary and monastery to the Pauline Fathers.

It was on this day, August 26, 1382 that Saint Ladislaus established the feast of the Madonna of Czestochowa and it is still observed today.

 

 

Vandalized

Next, the Hussites, followers of the heretic John Hus from Prague, attempted to harm the holy icon. In 1430 they stormed the monastery and stole the image. Placing it in a wagon, they were carrying it away when the vehicle stopped and could not be moved. The attackers hurled the image to the ground, breaking it in three pieces. One man pulled his sword and struck the image twice on the cheek leaving two deep scars. On attempting to slash it thrice, the man went into agonizing convulsions and died.

The two scars on the holy image as well as the one on the throat have always reappeared after attempts to repair them.

 

Besieged

King John KasimirThe holy icon’s great epic was the Siege of Czestochowa in 1655 when an army of 12,000 Swedish Protestant invaders led by a General Miller, attempted to take the monastery-fortress of Jasna Gora. The year before, a vision of a scourge in the face of the sun had been seen over the area. Indeed, King Karl Gustav, and the Swedes invaded and conquered most of Poland with the help of Calvinist Polish nobles, ousting King Jan Kasimir.

One monastery, led by a heroic prior, Fr. Augustine Kordecki, refused to surrender. Taking in five Catholic Polish nobles, the monastery resisted with only 300 men. The besieged faced treason, threats, and numerous assurances of the enemy’s “good will” in attempts to seduce them into an inglorious “peace”.

But placing their full trust in Our Lady, whose image they guarded, the monks answered, “Better to die worthily than to live impiously.” Thus began the 40-day siege, and nothing was spared to bring down the walls of Jasna Gora.

Meanwhile, the forty monks and the besieged prayed before the Holy Icon of Czestochowa. They prayed and fought, fought and prayed. And a mysterious “Lady”, dressed in a white or blue mantle, whom the Swedes called a “witch” began to appear on the ramparts, herself supplying the canons. The sight of her terrified the invaders.

A mysterious fog also enveloped the holy hill, which at times gave the illusion of the monastery-fortress being higher, at others lower, the result being that the canon-balls missed their target.

Finally, the mysterious lady appeared in the night to General Miller himself. After procuring a copy of the icon of Czestochowa, Miller said, "It is absolutely not comparable to that virgin who appeared to me; for it is not possible to see anything comparable on earth. Something of the celestial and divine, which frightened me from the beginning, shone in her face."

Fr Augustine leads the defense of Jasna GoraIn the end, spooked and discouraged by these supernatural occurrences, the Swedes lifted the siege. From the victory of Czestochowa, the Poles again took heart, and rallying around King Jan Kasimir, took back their country.

(For the full account of the siege of Czestochowa Click here)

The next year, in the presence of the clergy, nobility and people, King Kasimir solemnly proclaimed Our Lady of Czestochowa Queen of Poland. Recognizing that Poland had been chastised for its sins, and oppression of the less fortunate, He promised to rule with equity.

In 1920, when the Russian army assembled at the River Vistula, the Polish people had recourse to their Madonna. The Russians quickly withdrew after the image appeared in the clouds over Warsaw.

In Polish history, this is known as the Miracle of Vistula.

During the Nazi occupation of Poland in WW II, Hitler ordered all religious pilgrimages closed. In a demonstration of love and trust in Our Lady, half a million Poles defied Hitler’s orders and visited the shrine. Following the liberation of Poland in 1945, a million and a half people expressed their gratitude to their Madonna by praying before the miraculous image.

Twenty eight years after the first attempt to capture Warsaw, the Russians took the city. That year 800,000 visited the Lady of Czestochowa in defiance of the invader.

And today, free from Communism, Czestochowa continues to be the religious heartbeat of Poland. To the miraculous, fearless Lady of Jasna Gora, the Polish go with their needs and petitions, their sorrows and their joys. Indeed she is their embattled, victorious, miraculous queen.

Pilgrims visiting Jasna Gora

 


By A.F. Phillips

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 9, 2021

The privilege of our Church is such that it is never stronge...

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May 9

 

The privilege of our Church is such that
it is never stronger than when it is attacked,
never better known than when it is accused,
never more powerful than when it appears forsaken.

"Treatise on the Trinity"St. Hilary of Poitiers

 
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The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is......

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Mother's Day

 The loveliest masterpiece 
 
of the heart of God is... 
 
the heart of a mother. 

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Pachomius

So much did they impress him, as he observed them daily brin...

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St. Pachomius

Pachomius was born to pagan parents in Upper Thebais in Egypt in the year 292. According to one biographer, he was unwillingly drafted into the Emperor’s army when he was about twenty years old. Along with others pressed into the service of the emperor, Pachomius was ferried down river to Thebes, in which city the young pagan encountered Christians for the first time. So much did they impress him, as he observed them daily bringing food and comfort to the army recruits, who were kept close confined and ill-treated, that he vowed to investigate the Christian religion thoroughly once he had completed his time in the service of the Emperor. He later converted and was baptized in the year 314.

A few years after his conversion, Pachomius became acquainted with several well-known ascetics and decided to pursue their way of life. After seven years of preparation and study under the guidance and direction of a hermit named Palemon, Pachomius received the habit of a monk and set out to join St. Anthony of Egypt in the desert.

For a time Pachomius imitated Anthony’s solitary asceticism, living in his own hut, as the other followers of the great desert father did, and meeting occasionally with them for divine worship. Some time later, Pachomius heard a voice which instructed him to build a monastery at Tabennisi on the banks of the Nile where hermits who were physically or mentally unable to follow the rigor of Anthony’s solitary life could come to live as a community. Thus Pachomius is considered the first founder of cenobitic monasticism.

The first to be received into this new monastic community was his eldest brother John; within a short time their number grew to a hundred. Not only was Pachomius obliged to expand this first monastery at Tabennisi, but eventually, when this became inadequate, to build ten additional monasteries for men and two convents for women. For forty years he ruled the cenobites as their abbot. By the time of his death in 348, there were some seven thousand monks living under the monastic rule he had drawn up for them.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,”...

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Secret of Mary

Considering Our Lady’s action upon the three Fatima children in a broader sense, the changes she brought about in them was something extraordinary — something far beyond their capacity. From this, we gather that Our Lady suddenly and suavely transformed them through her repeated apparitions.

   
    St. Francisco Marto     St. Jacinta Marto

Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks. We see grace working profoundly in souls, and we see how it works silently, without the person perceiving it. As a result, the person feels truly free. More than ever, the person feels inspired to practice virtue and reject the evil chains of sin; consequently, their love of God blossoms.

Their desire to serve Him increases, and so does their hatred of sin. This marvelous transformation of soul occurs in such a way that the person does not experience the systematic uphill struggle of those who follow the classical system of the spiritual life to obtain virtue, sanctity, and Heaven. Much to the contrary, Our Lady changes them suddenly.

The changes in the two children Our Lady called to Heaven, Jacinta and Francisco, was particularly striking. What does this mean? Does this mean Our Lady will perform the same transformation upon us?

Is it a foretaste of how Our Lady intends to change Humanity when she fulfills her Fatima promises?

Can I say that the transformation in the souls of Jacinta and Francisco are the beginning of Our Lady’s reign? Is this not her triumph over the souls of Jacinta and Francisco, heralds of Our Lady’s message, who helped others accept the Fatima message through their prayers and sacrifices? And who still help us today through their prayers in Heaven?

If this is true, it is logical that Jacinta and Francisco be our intercessors before Our Lady and obtain the coming of her reign in our hearts. Is this not the mysterious transformation that we call the “Secret of Mary”?

I firmly believe that we must ask Jacinta and Francisco to transform us, to grant us the same gifts they received, and to guide us, whose mission it is to live and to preach the Fatima message.

Adapted from a lecture of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira on October 13, 1971.

Here we discover something akin to the “Secret of Mary,” of which Saint Louis de Montfort speaks.

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