BLACK MADONNA, OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA

The Miraculous Picture of Our Lady Of Czestochowa is one of the oldest of the Blessed Virgin in the world. The image portrays the Holy Mother pensive in sufferings, with deep sorrow reflected in her eyes and clouded brow. Science traces the origin of the picture to the 5th or 6th century A.D. The dark coloring on the faces and hands is characteristic of pictures painted during this period. However, prior to the year 1382, the history of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa is shrouded in legend and tradition.

Legend claims that...

  • St. Luke, the Evangelist, painted this picture on a cypress table top from Nazareth House.
  • 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 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 miracles attributed to Our Lady of Czestochowa are numerous and spectacular. During her stay in Constantinople, she is reported to have frightened the besieging Saracens from the city. Similarly, in 1655 a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary. The following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by king Kasimir. It is also recorded that Our Lady dispersed an army of Russian invaders by an apparition at the River Vistula on September 15, 1920.

Why is She Black? The Shrine was destroyed by a fire, but the Picture was not burned. However, the smoke and flames had darkened it and from that it has been known as the "Black Madonna". She is certainly beautiful and Her miraculous reputation is beyond dispute.

The icon by the hand of Janusz Charczuk. Egg tempera on wood, priming on textile, background 23 K gold leaf. 60.5x45.5 cm (23.75 x17.75 in).