Our Lady of Czestochowa
Saint Luke the Evangelist, according to tradition, is believed to be the original artist of this painting in which Mary is depicted holding the Christ Child. This sacred picture, enshrined and venerated at the renowned Marian Shrine in Poland, was first brought from Jerusalem through Constantinople and was bestowed to the Princess of Ruthenia. It was brought to Poland in 1382 through the efforts of Ladislaus of Opole who had discovered it in a castle at Belz. To ensure its protection, he invited the Monks of Saint Paul the First Hermit from Hungary to be its guardians.
From this time onward, the historic records of the painting are documented and authenticated by the miracles associated with the painting. In 1430, a devastating attack on the Polish Shrine resulted in tragic losses and the damaging of the holy picture. To this very day, despite the attempts to repair the damage, the slashes on the face of the Virgin Mary are still visible.
The foundation of the Monastery and Shrine in Czestochowa began with a small wooden church. Subsequent development (1632-48) led to the construction of the present day basilica and defense wall which surrounds the sacred buildings. 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.
As a result, King Jan Casimir, in 1656, made 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 for Poland.
During the years of Poland's partition (1772-1918) the Shrine of Jasna Gora became a vibrant link for the Polish people with their homeland. The holy painting enshrined at Czestochowa beamed as a lighthouse of hope during the painful years of national hardships and defeats.
Following the restoration of national independence in 1918, pilgrimages to the Polish Shrine grew in number and size. As World War II ended, a nation devastated by the scourges of war drew new strength and courage from the Shrine to rebuild and recover from the war. Today the Shrine of Czestochowa in Poland attracts millions of worshipers and tourists who come to honor the miraculous image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
In 1966, in celebration of the 1000th Anniversary of Poland's Christianity, a National Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa was dedicated in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and is under the direction of the Pauline Fathers and Brothers who also administer the Shrine in Poland.