Sunday, April 21, 2013
OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA
When I was in the 8th grade, we were given an assignment to write a report about one of the countries of our ancestry. It seemed to me that Ireland or Germany would be popular choices and rather easy, so I chose Poland. I wrote off to some place in the US (can't remember where 40 some years later) but they sent me three booklets. I wrote a 50 page report (yes, in those days there were no computers and in fact I hand wrote the report) and was very proud to receive an "A" for my efforts. For some reason (maybe it was that budding genealogist in me), I kept those 3 booklets and still have them to this day.
One of the booklets was about Our Lady of Czestochowa. I was always fascinated by this picture and the story behind it. According to the legend, the picture of Our Blessed Mother was painted by St. Luke on a piece of wood that a part of a table used by the Holy Family. This picture was lost in 72 AD but then found by the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine in 326. The mother, St. Helen, gave it to her son (Constantine) and he put it in a church in Constantinople, where it stayed for almost 500 years.
In 803 it was given to a Greek princess who carried it to Kiev, where it remained for 500 some years. In 1382 it was transported to Silesia for safety purposes, however, the horses carrying the painting stopped near the town of Czestochowa and refused to go any further. The Prince transporting the photo took this as a sign that the painting belonged in Czestochowa, so he built a monastery on a hill to house it.
The hill gleamed in the sunlight and so the Prince named it "Jasna Gora" or "Mount of Light". In 1430, Czech Hussites tried to steal the painting and take it away, but again "the horses wouldn't move". Outraged, they decided to burn the painting but the painting just remained a "charred version of itself". One of the soldiers struck the painting with its sword, causing two slash marks on the cheek of Our Lady. On the soldier's third try of slashing the painting, the soldier died.
To read a more in-depth history of Our Lady of Czestochowa, visit www.catholictradition.org/Mary/czesto. htm.