21 Apr 2008

Czestochowa...


for a second we thought this was the "real one" but it's a replica...

the "original" behind bars... that's more like it
(plus a room crowded with people, kneeling down when it was revealed)

While my dad was here we took a trip to a city called Czestochowa... i had never heard about Czestochowa before moving here but quickly learned it's cultural and religious importance. Czestochowa is visited every year by about 5 million Poles. The "Vatican City of Poland" as my dad described it is visited by school classes, especially by those preparing to write their high school exams which are very difficult. Many people 'pilgrimage' to Czestochowa on the Feast of the Assumption (aka. when Mary 'ascended into heaven' - August 15th) as well as on the Feast of Mary, Queen of Poland (May 3); the Feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa (August 26); the Feast of the Nativity of Mary (September 8); and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8).
People will walk for up to 21 days on foot to arrive on these specific dates.

The painting is believed to be miraculous and have saved the Polish nation. The main purpose of the pilgrimage is praying to the picture which is revealed at specific times each day.

"Legend attributes the creation of the picture to St. Luke, the evangelist, who "painted a portrait of the Virgin on the cedar wood table at which she had taken her meals." St. Helena, the Queen-Mother of Emperor Constantine is said to have located the portrait during her visit to the Holy Land and to have brought it to Constantinople in the fourth century. After remaining there for five centuries, it allegedly was transferred in royal dowries until it made its way to Poland, and the possession of St. Ladislaus in the fifteenth century...

The miracles worked by Our Lady of Czestochowa seem to occur mainly on a public scale. During her stay in Constantinople, she is reported to have frightened the besieging Saracens away from the city. Similarly, in 1655 a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive off a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary. The following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by King Casimir. It is also recorded that Our Lady dispersed an army of Russian invaders by an apparition at the River Vistula on September 15, 1920. In more recent times, the Czestochowa Madonna has also been acknowledged for her protection of and cooperation with the Polish nation."

I just finished reading a chapter of Beth Moore's book, "Breaking Free" on idolatry... how it makes God sad when we fill our need for Him with other things. I realize how often i am guilty of that in my own life. I wonder what it would look like if these millions of Poles would thank God for his provision instead of the picture...
* source - campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/olczest.html

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