Thought for the Day – 26 August – The Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa
In 1997 Pope John Paul II summed up the importance of the shrine to the Polish people:
“Jasna Góra is the place where our Nation down the centuries has come together to bear witness to its faith and to its attachment to the community of the Church of Christ.
Many times we used to come here, asking Mary for help in the struggle to preserve fidelity to God, the Cross, the Gospel, the Holy Church and her Shepherds. Here we accepted the duties of the Christian life. At the feet of Our Lady of Jasna Góra we found the strength to remain faithful to the Church, when she was persecuted, when she had to keep silent and suffer.
We always said ‘yes’ to the Church and this Christian attitude has been a great act of love for her. For the Church is our spiritual mother. It is thanks to her that ‘we should be called children of God; and so we are’ (cf 1 Jn 3:1). The Church is inscribed for ever in
the history of our Nation, keeping careful watch over the destiny of her children, especially in times of humiliation, war, persecution or loss of independence.”
John Paul designated Mary a model for faith and reason, as the table of wisdom, the seat of wisdom.
The Polish people make pilgrimage to Jasna Gora to seek the spring of culture: “Jasna Góra is the shrine of the Nation, the confessional and the altar. It is the place where Poles find spiritual transformation and renewal of life. May it remain so for ever.”(John Paul II 1997)
So too we need to be pilgrims on the way (viator), climbing the bright hill (Mary) towards the seat of Wisdom.
One Minute Reflection – 26 August – The Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa
… “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”…Luke 1:42 (Image Annunciation detail by Carlo Crivelli)
REFLECTION – “… in Mary there is accomplished the stupendous and complete victory of good over evil, of love over hatred, of grace over sin.”…St John Paul
PRAYER – As it was Your will heavenly Father, that, at the angel’s message, Your Word should be conceived by the Blessed Virgin Mary, grant that as we believe her to be truly the Mother of God, so may we be helped always, by her intercession. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, ‘totus tuus’ Maria – please pray for us, amen. (The image below is by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – The Virgin of the Annunciation – detail)
Our Morning Offering – 26 August Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa
Our Lady of Czestochowa,
Queen of Poland, pray for us.
Holy Mother of Czestochowa,
you are full of grace, goodness and mercy.
I consecrated to you all my thoughts,
words and actions – my soul and body.
I beseech your blessings
and especially prayers for my salvation.
Today I consecrate myself to you, good Mother, totally –
with body and soul amid joy and sufferings,
to obtain for myself and others,
your blessings on this earth
and eternal life in heaven. Amen
Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us.
Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland – 26 August – Also known as• Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Czarna Madonna, Hodegetria, Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, Matka Boska Czestochowska, One Who Shows the Way. Our Lady of Czestochowa is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland. Several Pontiffs have recognised the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter. Patron of Poland.
According to tradition, the icon of Jasna Góra (Bright Mountain) was painted by Luke the Evangelist on a tabletop built by Jesus himself and the icon was discovered by St Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine and collector of Christian relics in the Holy Land. The icon was then enshrined in the imperial city of Constantinople, according to the legend, where it remained for the next 500 years.
In 803, the painting is said to have been given as a wedding gift from the Byzantine emperor to a Greek princess, who married a Ruthenian nobleman. The image was then placed in the royal palace at Belz, where it remained for nearly 600 years.
History first combines with tradition upon the icon’s arrival in Poland in 1382 with a Polish army fleeing the Tartars, who had struck it with an arrow.
Legend has it that during the looting of Belz, a mysterious cloud enveloped the chapel containing the image. A monastery was founded in Częstochowa to enshrine the icon in 1386 and soon King Jagiello built a cathedral around the chapel containing the icon.
However, the image soon came under attack once again. In 1430, Hussites (pre-Reformation reformers) attacked the monastery, slashed the Virgin’s face with a sword, and left it desecrated in a puddle of blood and mud.
It is said that when the monks pulled the icon from the mud, a miraculous fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The icon was repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from the sword were left and remain clearly visible today.
The miracle for which the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is most famous occurred in 1655, when Swedish troops were about to invade Częstochowa. A group of Polish soldiers prayed fervently before the icon for deliverance and the enemy retreated. In 1656, King John Casimir declared Our Lady of Częstochowa “Queen of Poland” and made the city the spiritual capital of the nation.
The Virgin again came to the aid of her people in 1920, when the Soviet Russian Red Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River, preparing to attack Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to Our Lady of Częstochowa and on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared in the clouds above Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of battles later dubbed the “Miracle at the Vistula.”
During Nazi occupation, Hitler prohibited pilgrimages to Jasna Góra but many still secretly made the journey. In 1945, after Poland was liberated, half a million pilgrims journeyed to Czestochowa to express their gratitude. On September 8, 1946, 1.5 million people gathered at the shrine to rededicate the entire nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the Cold War, Jasna Góra was a centre of anti-Communist resistance. Czestochowa 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. He was a fervent devotee of the Virgin Mary and of her icon at Czestochowa. As pope, he made pilgrimages to pray before the Black Madonna in 1979, 1983, 1991 and 1997. In 1991, he held his Sixth World Youth Day at Czestochowa, which was attended by 350,000 young people from across Europe.
The four-foot-high painting displays a traditional composition well known in the icons of Eastern Christians. The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur-de-lis robes.
Our Lady of Czestochowa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTPPBxowQY
St Abundius the Martyr
St Alexander of Bergamo
St Anastasius the Fuller
St Bregwin of Canterbury
St Elias of Syracuse
St Eleutherius of Auxerre
St Felix of Pistoia
Bl Ioachim Watanabe Jirozaemon
St Irenaeus of Rome
Bl Jacques Retouret
St Jeanne Elizabeth des Bichier des Anges
Bl Jean Bassano
Bl Jean of Caramola
Bl Juan Urgel
Bl Levkadia Herasymiv
Bl Margaret of Faenza
St Mary of Jesus Crucified
St Maximilian of Rome
St Melchizedek the Patriarch
St Orontius of Lecce
St Rufinus of Capua
St Secundus the Theban
Bl Stanislaus Han Jeong-Heum
St Teresa de Gesu, Jornet y Ibars
St Victor of Caesarea
St Victor the Martyr
St Vyevain of York
Martyrs of Celano – 3 saints: Three Christians, Constantius, Simplicius and Victorinus, martyred in the same area at roughly the same time. That’s really all we know, though it didn’t stop writers in later centuries from inventing colourful histories, making them a father and sons, adding saintly family members, earthquakes, close escapes, etc.
They were martyred in c 159 in the Marsica region of Italy. At some point their relics were interred under the main altar of the San Giovanni Vecchio church in the Collegiata di Celano and were authenticated in 1057 by Pope Stephen IX. The city was depopulated in 1222; when it was re-built, the relics were re-enshrined in the church of San Vittorino on 10 June 1406. Patronage – Celano, Italy.
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Emilio Serrano Lizarralde
• Blessed Francesc Casademunt Ribas
• Blessed Josep Maria Tolaguera Oliva
• Blessed Luis Valls Matamales
• Blessed María de Los Ángeles Ginard Martí
• Blessed Pere Sisterna Torrent