The Queen of Poland
The Black Madonna
National Symbol of Poland
Our Lady of Czestochowa
The fifth- or sixth-century painting of the Queen of Poland is one of the worlds oldest portraits of the Virgin and Child. It is believed to have been painted by St. Luke on the top of a cypress table. Legend has it that the table, built by St. Joseph, was used by the Holy Family in Nazareth. It is also believed that Mother Mary sat for the portrait at the request of early Christians.
The icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the BLACK MADONNA, is enshrined on Jasna Gora (Hill of Light), above the city of Czestochowa in South Central Poland. For centuries the Polish people have honored Mary the Mother of God and her divine Son in this holy place.
The Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa is one of the oldest of the Blessed Virgin in the world. Science traces the picture's origins to the 5th or 6th century A.D. The dark coloring on the faces and hands is characteristic of pictures painted during this period.
But prior to the year 1382, the history of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa is shrouded in legend and tradition.
In the year 326 St. Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, located the Sacred Picture in Jerusalem and brought it back to Constantinople where it remained for centuries venerated by the emperor's family.
The Holy Picture reached Southern Poland as part of a dowry in a marriage
between royal families from Constantinople and Kiev.
In the year 1382, the Pauline Fathers were entrusted with the guarding of the Miraculous Painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Ladislaus, Prince of Opole and regent for Louis the Great in Poland, had found the Sacred Picture in the castle of Belz during the war with Ruthen Lords. Seeking a more suitable place for the Venerable Image of the Blessed Mother, he brought the picture to Czestochowa, a small town in central Poland. Members of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit (the Pauline Fathers) were invited to come from Hungary to settle in Czestochowa as protectors of the revered picture.
Mary, who holds her child tenderly in her hands, bears two scars on her cheek which were inflicted by the swords of invading soldiers in the fifteenth century. Her face is blackened by fire from battles for the control of Poland. The icon carries the signs of Poland's struggles and its victories over its foes.
The establishment of the Monastery and Shrine in Czestochowa began with a small wooden church. Subsequent development and expansion resulted in the construction of the present day basilica and defense walls which surround the sacred buildings (1632-48).
Under the heroic leadership of the Prior of the Monastery, Father Augustine Kordecki, the Shrine withstood the attacks of the Swedish invasion of 1655. This great victory proved to be a tremendous boost to the morale of the entire Polish nation.
In 1656 King Jan Casimir took a solemn vow proclaiming the Mother of God to be the "Queen of the Polish Crown" and the Shrine of Jasna Gora to be the "Mount of Victory" and a spiritual capital of Poland.
During the years of communist domination of Poland (1945-1981) the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa became the rallying point for the Polish people, persecuted for their Christian faith.