Home of the Black Madonna
Czestochowa is a city in south Poland on the Warta River. It lies among the picturesque Jurassic rocks of Krakow Czestochowa Upland, topped with the ruins of Medieval castles.
The town is known for the famous Pauline monastery of Jasna Góra that is the home of the Black Madonna painting, a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world come to Częstochowa to see it. There is also a Lusatian culture excavation site and museum in the city and ruins of a medieval castle in Olsztyn, approximately 25 kilometres (ca. 16 mi) from the city centre.
Black Madonna & The Pope
Several Pontiffs have recognised the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter. Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa is a holy icon of the Virgin Mary, that is both Poland’s holiest relic and one of the country’s national symbols.
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.
Tourism in Czestochowa
Currently the city is one of the main tourist attractions of the area and is sometimes called the little Nuremberg because of the number of souvenir shops and historical monuments. It attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.
Legends about the Madonna’s appearance
The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna’s right cheek is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites 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 writhed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes as the painting was done with tempera infused with diluted wax.
Arrival in Częstochowa
Art historians say that the original painting was a Byzantine icon created around the sixth or ninth century. They agree that Prince Władysław brought it to the monastery in the 14th century.