JANUARY 28, 2018
HIGH MASS AT 10:00a.m.
CHRIST THE LIGHT CATHEDRAL in Oakland, California
Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, Chief Officiant
The Enthronement of the Polish Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa
in the Chapel of All Saints.
Our Lady of Częstochowa, is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland.
Latin: Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, in Claro Monte
The icon of The Black Madonna has been intimately associated with Poland for the past 600 years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland is shrouded in numerous legends which trace the icon’s origin to St. Luke who painted it on a cedar table top from the house of the Holy Family. The same legend holds that the painting was discovered in Jerusalem in 326 by St. Helena, who brought it back to Constantinople and presented it to her son, Constantine the Great. 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.
The Black Madonna is said to have miraculously saved the monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Mount) from a Swedish invasion. The Siege of Jasna Góra took place in the winter of 1655 during the Second Northern War, as the Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is known. The Swedes were attempting to capture the Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa. Seventy monks and 180 local volunteers, mostly from the szlachta (Polish nobility), held off 4,000 Swedes for 40 days, saved their sacred icon and, according to some accounts, turned the course of the war. This event led King John II Casimir Vasa to „crown” Our Lady of Częstochowa („the Black Madonna”) as Queen and Protector of Poland in the cathedral of Lwów on April 1, 1652.
Several Pontiffs have recognized the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter, then stolen on 23 October 1909.Pope Pius X issued another canonical coronation, replacing the crowns on 22 May 1910. Pope John Paul II issued another coronation as a native of Poland, which was placed on 26 August 2005.
Częstochowa is regarded as the most popular shrine in Poland, with many Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage there every year. A pilgrimage has left Warsaw every August 6 since 1711 for the nine-day, 140-mile trek. Elderly pilgrims recall stealing through the dark countryside at great personal risk during the German Nazi occupation. Pope John Paul II secretly visited as a student pilgrim during World War II. There are more than 60 countries with Marian Shrines.
The feast day of Our Lady of Częstochowa is celebrated on August 26. Every few years a new set of “dresses” has been sponsored by devotees and then designed by artisans for the icon, many with glittering jewels, fine silks, and on one, a cloak of amber from the Baltic Sea.
Every Catholic parish in Poland has an image of the icon in their church, rectory, and school. The American Shrine of Czestochowa is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. There is also an icon in the Sacristy of St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption in San Francisco. Previous stolen copies of the Icon at the Basilica at Mission Dolores had to be replaced in the 1950s.
Local participation for today’s ceremony includes members of the various Polish parishes and schools
within the Diocese of Oakland and others around the Bay Area.
The Polonia of Northern California number over 100,000 today and the history of our community extends over 150 years.
Committee Chair: Deacon Witold Cichon
Source: EBPAA Martinez , January 22, 2018.
Image: The Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. Photo: TripAdvisor.